chapter  2
25 Pages

Transnational capital and the US–China nexus RONALD W . COX AND SYLvAIN LEE

Introduction As the previous chapter documented, transnational corporations based in the US advanced a globalization agenda that included political support for the expansion of global supply chains. Corporate restructuring during the 1980s was facilitated by favorable changes in US tax laws that encouraged and promoted corporate downsizing. This included the shedding of entire corporate divisions in favor of a greater reliance on subcontracting and independent production networks in foreign markets. Transnational corporations at the top of the global supply chains focused on branding and marketing the finished product, while delegating the production of the product across an increasingly complex web of global pro­ ducers. This shift toward global supply chains is most pronounced in advanced technology sectors, most prominently computers, electronics, and telecommuni­ cations. In the computer and information technology sectors there has been a notable shift to production networks in East Asia, with China quickly constitut­ ing itself as a leading global producer of a range of electronic and computer products, and the center of a burgeoning Asian network of regional producers. This chapter builds on the analytic framework established in Chapter 1 by exam­ ining the politics of the transnational production network that links US­ based corporations to the China market. The first section examines how transnational capital, in collusion with the US Executive Branch, has sought to create legal and economic conditions for greater transnational accumulation through access to the China Market. The second examines the emergence of the new China market within the context of neoliberal globalization and the increasing central­ ity of global supply chains as a means of transnational accumulation. The third section takes a closer look at the role of US-based high-tech firms in the political economy of the US-China supply chains. We conclude by examining the effects of these policies on China’s political development with particular attention to the situation of the Chinese working class.