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Clash of Powers: US-China Rivalry in Global Trade Governance, Kristen Hopewell

Reviewed by Dimitar D. Gueorguiev

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Behind the zeitgeisty title and generic cover art, Kristen Hopewell's Clash of Powers delivers an original and laser-focused critique of two status quo assumptions about the international trading system: that America will maintain leadership of a system it fostered, and that China will further integrate into a system from which it benefits. In both cases, the source of tension, Hopewell argues, is that China, despite having features of a developing economy, impacts global markets like a fully developed one. Hopewell refers to this economic identity crisis as the “China Paradox,” cautioning that unless it is resolved, multilateral institutions that have facilitated global markets for nearly a century could grind to a halt.

Clash of Powers is essential reading for trade economists and anyone interested in understanding the U.S.-China rivalry beyond the stale rising/declining power narrative. Drawing on rich industrial data alongside extensive interviews with trade negotiators, policymakers, and industry representatives, Hopewell explains how China capitalizes on preferential terms aimed at giving developing countries a leg up in competitive markets. China's exploitation of these terms has helped it compete with the West, but it has also undercut poor and vulnerable producers in the Global South and stymied multilateral effort

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