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In The Competition Between The U.S. And China, Where Does St. Louis Fit In?

(via Flickr/iChaz)

According to World Trade Center St. Louis executive director Tim Nowak, the number one destination for St. Louis exports is China. With such a direct link to the St. Louis economy, the future of U.S.-China relations is particularly significant to the St. Louis region.

In his new book “Contest of the Century,” Financial Times journalist Geoff Dyer offers an in-depth look at the increasingly competitive nature of that relationship. He is in St. Louis for a presentation tonight at the St. Louis County Library.

While strong economic ties between China and the United States remain, China has also begun challenging U.S. dominance in three key areas, said Dyer.

“China is building up a navy, which is in lots of ways directed at slowly pushing the U.S. further out to sea in the Western Pacific. China is trying to beef up its currency to make it a global currency that can challenge in some way the U.S. dollar. And it’s also doing things like taking its media companies overseas in ways that it hopes will eventually challenge people like CNN and other big western media organizations,” he said.

In spite of these challenges, Dyer thinks the United States should encourage Chinese investment in America, similar to the existing American investment in China.

“The U.S. could benefit very much from having that same kind of constituency in this country,” Dyer said. “Senior members of the Communist Party that have a direct economic stake in the U.S. economy; that’s a powerful potential point of leverage that the U.S. could have to exert influence over politics in China.”

By taking advantage of existing allies in Asia, focusing its attention on the parts of the world it has the most interest in, and maintaining a strong yet delicate military presence in the Western Pacific, Dyer believes the U.S. can remain a dominant world power despite the pushback from China.

“The balance of power is very much in America’s favor if it can develop smart and disciplined policies to back that up,” he said.

World Trade Center executive director Tim Nowak weighs in.
A discussion about St. Louis-China relations with World Trade Center executive director Tim Nowak.

Last week, the U.S.–China Business Council visited the World Trade Center St. Louis to give an update on the business climate in China. The gist of the presentation was that in addition to trade, there is an opportunity for Chinese investment in America, said World Trade Center St. Louis executive director Tim Nowak.

“By comparison, the foreign direct investment coming into the U.S. from China is still relatively small when you compare it to other countries,” Nowak said. “But it is growing at a rapid pace. So you’re going to see more China brands moving up that value chain and looking to enter into the largest consumer market in the world. And to that, you’ve got to have a presence from which to do it.”

Because China is already the largest export market in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area, Nowak believes encouraging Chinese investment in the region could be a natural extension of the existing economic ties.

Related Event

St. Louis County Library's 'Buzz' Westfall Favorite Author Series Presents Geoff Dyer
Monday, February 24, 2014
7:00 p.m.
St. Louis County Library Headquarters, 1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd.
For more information, call 314-994-3300 or visit theSt. Louis County Library website.

St. Louis on the Air provides discussion about issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh.

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