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When Facts About China Change, Elites Should Change Their Views Too

Since the late 1970s, the United States has been in the grip of an almost religious belief that free markets and unfettered globalization maximize U.S. and global welfare. Termed the “Washington Consensus,” the view is based on faith that small government is best, governments should not try to pick winners, no industry is more important than another, and more economic competition and global integration are always good.

Many of this dominant policymaking group remain firmly committed to this view, rejecting any and all contrary evidence that might require reinventing their guiding intellectual paradigm. A case in point is a recent Project Syndicate article by Harvard scholar Joe Nye entitled “Peak China?” Whereas many in Washington have come to recognize that China’s goal is to become the new global hegemon—and they must revise their views of U.S. economic and foreign policy accordingly—for true believers, like Nye, that is simply unacceptable. As such, the idea China is a threat must be destroyed intellectually.

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