Editor’s Note: Based on reader feedback, we are making some changes to Deep Dive. The current Deep Dive will be going on hiatus on Feb. 7, allowing us to revamp the format. Look for the new and improved Deep Dive on March 14.
In 2015, Beijing released a series of ambitious industrial plans, the most prominent of which was called “Made in China 2025.” The blueprint itself is fairly anodyne; it lays out lofty goals that aim to refocus China’s economy away from labor-intensive manufacturing and toward high-tech and service industries. To try to blunt Western criticism, Beijing has effectively disowned the document itself, but its principal policies remain and are now the center of U.S. complaints about state-backed efforts to swipe Western tech and distort markets in China’s favor. The unspoken U.S. concern is what it would mean for the balance of power should the plan succeed.
For China, however, success is the only option. The low-cost manufacturing model that f