Made in China: When US-China Interests Converged to Transform Global Trade

How and why did China ‒ the world’s largest communist nation ‒ converge with global capitalism? And when did this occur? In this new book, LSE historian Elizabeth Ingleson tells the surprising story of how the United States and China went from Cold War foes to finding common cause by transforming China’s economy into a source of cheap labour, creating the economic interdependence that characterizes our world today.

Far from inevitable, Ingleson shows that this convergence hinged upon a reconfiguration of the very meaning of trade. For centuries, the vastness of the Chinese market tempted foreign companies in search of customers. But in the 1970s, when the United States and China ended two decades of Cold War isolation, China’s trade relations veered in a very different direction. Ingleson argues that the interests of US business and the Chinese state aligned to reframe the China market: the old dream of plentiful customers gave way to a new vision of low-cost workers by the hundreds of millions.

Elizabeth O’Brien Ingleson is Assistant Professor of International History at the London School of Economics. She earned her doctorate at the University of Sydney, and held fellowships at Yale University, the University of Virginia, and Southern Methodist University. She currently serves on the editorial board of the journal Cold War History.