US elite power and the rise of ‘statist’ Chinese elites in global markets

Naná de Graaff*, Bastiaan van Apeldoorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The rise of Chinese ‘state capitalism’ such as expressed by the global expansion of Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) has been met with substantial suspicion on the part of the Western corporate and political establishment—including among Washington’s policy-making elite. The underpinning claim that the rise of SOEs would impair market mechanisms, we argue, is, however, theoretically problematic and empirically incorrect. Taking the example of the global oil and gas sector, the article illustrates that at firm level major corporations from rising powers, such as China, increasingly cooperate with Western firms, including with American oil majors. In that sense, Chinese firms participate in capitalist competition just as any Western firm. The roots of the assumed threat posed by China’s rise, we argue, must rather be situated in the distinctive nature of the state-capital nexus in the USA and China, respectively, and the configuration of elite networks underpinning this nexus. We will illustrate this by analysing the social networks in which directors of major Chinese and US oil firms are embedded, including the networks of corporate ties, affiliations with (transnational) policy planning bodies and state-business ties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338–355
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Politics
Volume54
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

Keywords

  • China’s rise
  • Corporate elite networks
  • Oil companies
  • Social network analysis
  • State-capital nexus
  • State-owned enterprises (SOEs)

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