Government & Policy

Finance & Economy

Politics, policy, and foreign affairs: A chat with Evan Osnos

June 28, 2023

Politics, policy, and foreign affairs: A chat with Evan Osnos

Evan Osnos

Political Journalist at The New Yorker

Evan Osnos shares his insights on how the uneasy relationship between the US and China will progress.

I recently had the chance to chat with Evan Osnos, a journalist who contributes to The New Yorker Magazine and CNN. Evan is also the cohost of The Political Scene podcast, and the author of three books, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China, Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now, and most recently, Wildland: The Making of America’s Fury. Throughout the interview, we had the chance to talk about everything from US-China relations to the writing of Wildland.

US-China relations

The United States and China have always had a very delicate relationship. However, tensions have been rising notably over the course of the past few years. As an American citizen and someone who has spent a good bit of time in China, Evan offered a rather unique take on the situation. Over the course of his 25 years studying China, the US-China relationship took a turn that many didn’t expect. At the beginning of his time covering China, the US dependence on China was ever-growing, as US-based companies were increasingly outsourcing everything that they could. Over the past six years or so, things have taken a turn for the worst, with relations reaching the lowest point since Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon went to China in the 1970s.

Will the US cut business ties with China?

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, almost every American business with ties to Russia severed them immediately. If, however, a broader conflict with China were to arise, cutting ties would be much more difficult. Even though companies have been making a concerted effort to diversify their manufacturing outside of China and move to Southeast Asia, the US is still heavily reliant on China. The potential invasion of Taiwan would further complicate matters, as the majority of computer chips are manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor. That is why there has been a huge push to move the manufacturing of chips to the US.

The making of Wildland

Evan’s most recent work, Wildland: The Making of America’s Fury is an examination of the events that led to the pandemic, civil unrest, and political turmoil that marked 2020. In the book, he focuses on three key cities: Greenwich, CT, Clarksburg, WV, and Chicago, IL. Evan chose these places because he believes location plays a huge role in shaping both an individual's outcomes as well as their worldview. He had also spent extensive time in all three of these drastically different places, making him very familiar with the people that reside in these areas. This allowed him to give a very informed and nuanced take on what shapes the people that hail from those areas, and is likely the reason the book’s review by Publisher Weekly calls it “an engrossing and revealing look at how deeply connected yet far apart Americans are."

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