Good evening. You are likely familiar with the broad strokes of ZTE’s downfall: the 2012 Reuters report about sanctions violations and the years-long U.S. government investigation that resulted in the largest fine in U.S. history. But amid all of that, the FBI also had an assist from Ashley Yablon, ZTE USA’s General Counsel. Our cover story this week is an excerpt from Yablon’s new book, which offers a glimpse into how the Chinese telecom giant tried to skirt U.S. law. Elsewhere, we have infographics on Beijing’s new ‘little giants’ initiative; an interview with Deborah Brautigam on China’s return on investment in Africa; a roundup of the best new China books; and an op-ed from Kerry Brown on Xi Jinping and the 2022 Congress. If you’re not already a paid subscriber to The Wire, please sign up here.
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After the U.S. government started investigating ZTE for sanctions violations, the company’s American General Counsel, Ashley Yablon, turned to the FBI and spilled the billion dollar beans. In this excerpt from his new book, Yablon tells what it was like inside the company during those chaotic days.
The Big Picture: Little Giants, Big Expectations
As China’s crackdown on its tech giants rolls on, a new group of companies has come into favor with the state: the ‘little giants,’ around 4,700 small to mid-sized companies in strategic sectors like advanced manufacturing, software and robotics. This week, The Wire’s infographics by Eliot Chen look at the companies involved in Beijing’s new initiative as well as its European analogues and why some people aren’t so sure of its success.
A Q&A with Deborah Brautigam
Deborah Brautigam is one of the preeminent scholars of the China-Africa relationship and serves as the Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy and director of the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. In this week’s Q&A with Garrett O’Brien, she talks about China’s return on investment in Africa, including the myth of ‘debt trap diplomacy,’ how Covid has changed China’s relationship to Africa, and China’s capacity to ‘meddle.’
Illustration by Lauren Crow
Books: Getting China Right
For China watchers, the word “war” used to feel comfortably theoretical. But as Alec Ash notes in his roundup of the best new China books, a growing number are treating seriously the risk of a live conflict with China on one side and a Western power or powers on the other.
Xi and the 2022 Congress — No Rivals in Sight
Despite a rocky start to this year, the overwhelming expectation is that Xi Jinping will be granted a third term as party leader — something that was not accorded to either of his two predecessors. As Kerry Brown, a professor of Chinese Studies at King’s College, argues in this week’s op-ed, there are potentially positive and negative reasons for this.
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