China Makes Everything. Why Can't It Create Anything?

Tony Law / Redux

A Foxconn plant in Shenzhen, which puts together, among other products, the iPhone.

China is an unbeatable industrial juggernaut that will steamroll its competitors in its relentless quest for wealth and power. Right? Well, that's what most people think — and for good reason. In the mere 30 years since its communist leadership exchanged Maoist rhetoric for good old capitalism — or what it calls "socialism with Chinese characteristics" — China has become the world's second largest economy and the chief rival to the U.S. for global dominance. China's 1.3 billion upwardly mobile people are voracious consumers of everything from cars to smartphones to Kentucky Fried Chicken. Through its relentless exports, China...

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