Government & Policy

State of affairs: Evan Osnos on China, politics, and global conflict

November 1, 2023

State of affairs: Evan Osnos on China, politics, and global conflict

Evan Osnos

Political journalist at the New Yorker

Evan Osnos shares his clear-eyed view of what China's inner turmoil means for the markets.

I was recently able to check in again with my friend Evan Osnos. For those who aren’t familiar with his work, Evan is a political journalist at The New Yorker. Throughout his time as a journalist, he has spent extensive periods in both the Middle East and China. Evan is also an esteemed author who has published 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 Wildland: The Making of America’s Fury. Evan has been awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for his works as an author. 

What China’s inner turmoil means for the world

Just recently, I had a chat with some clients who informed me they would be completely divesting from China and looking to invest in the US. Once I heard this, I knew I had to reach out to Evan to talk about the happenings in China. To my surprise, when I got in touch with Evan, he was working on a piece for The New Yorker that covered the economic and political landscape of China. Upon reading it, I realized that he had come to the same conclusion as my clients. China is becoming less investable as prominent officials and businessmen disappear, entrepreneurs flee the country, and the country as a whole becomes less productive. 

Is China still investable?

While there are a multitude of negative demographic shifts occurring in China, such as the fact that the working-age population is expected to decline by 25 percent from its peak in 2011, China remains a pivotal country in the global landscape. After all, China is the largest trading partner with 120 countries, it has at least 80 percent of the supply chain for all of the solar panels in the world, and it’s the largest producer of electric vehicles, along with countless other items and materials on which the world relies.  

When you couple this with the fact that there is a tremendous amount of political turmoil in China, many people ask, “Is China still investable?” While there is no definitive answer, a lot can be inferred from the sentiment felt by domestic investors, business magnates, and entrepreneurs shaping the country and its culture. Generally speaking, the sentiment is not good, which has led many to conclude that China is not investable now.

The implications of ongoing conflicts

It seems that we get just a bit closer to a boiling point each day, with conflicts in Ukraine and Israel, as well as increasing instability between China and Taiwan. This drastic uptick in conflict has led many to believe that China may be making a move against Taiwan sooner rather than later.  However, Evan does not seem to think that’s the case.  

While many people feel that China is on a downtrend and that its last-ditch effort may be to invade Taiwan while it still has the power to do so, the US military and intelligence agencies believe otherwise. Instead, they believe that a Chinese attack on Taiwan is neither imminent nor inevitable because, historically, when there are domestic problems in China, leaders have tried to maintain as much stability as possible.

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