Good evening. Is there a new generation of CEOs who are, contrary to popular opinion, committed to doing business with China? As CEO of AIG, which was founded in Shanghai, Hank Greenberg was known for advocating for closer ties. Now, his son, insurance mogul Evan Greenberg, is also speaking out for deeper engagement. Our cover story this week looks at the Greenbergs and the role of business interests in U.S.-China relations. Elsewhere, we have infographics on China’s industrial policy spending, which might be even more than you think; an interview with Louisa Lim on the erosion of democracy in Hong Kong; a roundup of the best new China books, including two on the super app WeChat; and an op-ed about Japan’s lessons for Taiwan. If you’re not already a paid subscriber to The Wire, please sign up here.
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At age 97, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the former CEO of AIG, has advocated for deeper U.S. engagement with China for longer than perhaps any living American businessman. While his positioning as a private sector statesman seems out of touch given the current state of U.S.-China relations, his son, Evan Greenberg, who is CEO of Chubb, is updating the Greenberg engagement slogan for the current moment. Brent Crane reports.
How much does Beijing spend on its industrial policy goals? A new estimate suggests the figure could be much larger than first realized. This week, infographics by Eliot Chen look at China’s industrial policy: how much it spends, how it stands out, and what lessons the U.S. should learn from it.
Louisa Lim is an award-winning journalist who grew up in Hong Kong and reported for local media, the BBC, NPR, and more for over two decades. She is the author of The People’s Republic of Amnesia (2014) and Indelible City: Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong (2022). In this week’s Q&A with Jordyn Haime, she talks about the erosion of democracy in Hong Kong, including the uncertainty surrounding the political red lines, what it’s like to report there now, and the lack of possibility for resistance.
Illustration by Kate Copeland
In China, the nexus of control and tracking is found in one ubiquitous app: WeChat. Topping our books list this month, by Alec Ash, are two titles focused on the ‘super app,’ used by 1.3 billion people. One book tells the story of the company that created it, Tencent; another lifts the lid on its operations, by a former executive.
By ratcheting up the pressure on Taiwan in response to recent visits by U.S. officials, China is following a strategy that it honed in its past confrontations with Japan, argues Takatoshi Ito in this week’s op-ed. The Chinese, says Ito, a former Japanese deputy vice minister of finance, will continue to chip away at the status quo as long as Taiwan is unable to deter them.
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