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Does the China Model Work? Technology, Commerce, and Geopolitics

On February 18th, Doug Silverman, Adri Guha, and Akhil Johri joined Professor Hal Brands and the Kissinger Center for a discussion titled, “Does the China Model Work? Technology, Commerce, and Geopolitics.” The event was the second of the Kissinger Center’s spring America in the World Consortium series. The speakers analyzed the successes and limitations of China’s drive to become a leader in technology and commerce around the world.  


Adri Guha began the discussion with his analysis of China’s technological success. He characterized China’s model as being one of innovation importation. In particular, Mr. Guha discussed China’s success in 5G technology. However, he asserted that China’s technological growth model will not be sustainable from an innovation or geopolitical standpoint.  


Akhil Johri, citing his own experience, spoke on ways in which companies can protect their intellectual property while operating in China. China’s market has become impossible for outside companies to ignore, but firms can take measures to keep their property safe. For example, some use U.S. government licenses or keep manufacturing outside of China. Mr. Johri also warned that the United States must stay ahead of the technological curve regarding competition with China.  


Doug Silverman spoke on the issue of digital currency. He noted initially that China has taken the lead in digital currency innovation, something the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated. In the geopolitical world, Mr. Silverman warned that digital currency may allow Chinese spheres of influence and Chinese surveillance of outside companies. However, Mr. Silverman was less worried about the threat Chinese digital currency poses to dollar dominance. He concluded that the United States ought to begin its own innovation in digital currency to create a U.S. led currency option for the rest of the world.  


Douglas Silverman is the Managing Partner of Senator Investment Group. Mr. Silverman co-founded Senator Investment Group in 2008 to pursue event-driven, opportunistic investments in distressed debt, value and event equities, and special situations.  


Akhil Johri is the former Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for United Technologies Corporation. Akhil was one of the key executives driving the strategic transformation of UTC from a conglomerate into three focused global leaders in aerospace & defense, elevator and HVAC & fire and security industries.  


Adri Guha is Chief Investment Officer (CIO) of Advanced Portfolio Management (APM), a New York City-based asset management firm serving institutions such as endowments, pension funds, banks, and insurance companies globally.