- Australia’s strategic rethink of its relationship with China.
- Negative coverage of China in the mainstream media.
- The good, the bad and the ugly of working at Huawei as a foreigner.
- A long-term resident’s views on Indonesia.
- Which countries in Asia have gotten it right? The importance of a healthy sense of paranoia.
- The proper role of the state in markets.
- Transitioning from the business world to academia.
- Reading, listening, and watching recommendations from:
- Simon – Disunited Nations by Peter Zeihan; Superpower Showdown by Bob Davis and Lingling Wei; America Inc.? by Linda Weiss; and The Entrepreneurial State by Mariana Mazzucato
- Jonathan – A Higher Loyalty by James Comey and The Room Where It Happened by John Bolton
- Fred – What Fiona Hill Learned in the White House (The New Yorker) by Adam Entous and Noel Philips’ trip reports.
If you have comments on this episode or if you’d like to suggest topics for future episodes, please email globallawbiz [at] harrisbricken [dot] com.
And please follow Fred and Jonathan on social media to stay informed on upcoming guests and topics:
This podcast audio has been transcribed by an automatic transcriber.
Fred Rocafort 0:07
Global law and global business go hand in hand, but never seemed to keep pace with each other, developing and developed nations wax and wane and their importance in the global stage. While consumption and interconnectedness both increase, laws and regulations change incessantly, requiring businesses to stay nimble. How do we make sense of it all? Welcome to global lawn business, hosted by Harris Bricken International Business attorneys. I’m Fred Rocafort
Jonathan Bench 0:34
and I’m Jonathan Bench. Every Thursday, we take a bite sized look at legal and economic developments and locales around the world as we try to decipher global trends in law and business with the help of our international guests. We cover continents, countries, regimes, governance, finance, legal developments, and whatever is trending on Twitter. We cover the important the seemingly unimportant, the relatively simple and the complex.
Fred Rocafort 0:59
We hope you enjoy today’s podcast. Please connect with us via email and social media to comment and suggest future topics and guests.
Today, we are delighted to have Simon Lacey with us. Simon is currently senior lecturer at the University of Adelaide Institute for International Trade. Prior to joining the Institute, Simon held the position of vice president trade facilitation and market access at Huawei Technologies in Shenzhen, China, where he was responsible for monitoring, managing and mitigating the biggest trade and investment risks facing the company across a dozen of its most important markets internationally. Before joining Huawei, Simon worked in over 30 countries providing training and advice in the areas of trade and investment policy to both sovereigns and the private sector. It was in this capacity that Simon spent four years advising the Indonesian Ministry of Trade on a broad range of issues in connection with the country’s membership of ASEAN, the WTO as well as a number of preferential trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties. Simon is also a member of the University of New South Wales, Herbert Smith freehills, China International Business and Economic Law Center. His research and teaching interests encompass trade and investment in the innovation, Economy, Trade and Investment policies for development and the impact of increased geopolitical tensions and disruptive new technologies on trade and investment policies. Simon obtained his bachelor’s in laws from the University of Freiburg in Switzerland and also has an LLM from Georgetown in Washington, DC. He is currently completing his PhD at the University of New South Wales. Simon, welcome.
Simon Lacey 2:52
Thank you, Fred. Good to be here.
Jonathan Bench 2:54
Simon, you are our first guests from Australia. So we need to ask you whether there are any major legal or economic developments that are taking place in the country that we should know about?
Simon Lacey 3:04
Well, I think Australia now is kind of having a bit of a strange strategic rethink on how exposed it is to the Chinese market. And will kind of going forward the pursuing a china plus one or China plus two strategy in terms of its supply chain exposure. And that that across a lot of things, food manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, whatever. And so there’s going to be a bit of upheaval in the future and that, you know, that creates opportunities, obviously.
Jonathan Bench 3:44
So if I can ask you a follow on question to that, you see the Australia I’m reading about, you know, Australian Japanese India, alliances that are forming along with the US as well. Can you comment on on what you’re seeing in terms of you know, Australia News. How is that being perceived locally as as, like you said, Australia is gearing up to have a plus one plus two plus three relationship to kind of fend off China?
Simon Lacey 4:12
Yeah, look, I think, I think Australia is definitely going to be looking for allies in the region. And, and I think, you know, the whole COVID-19 thing has has been a bit of a wake up call for, for a lot of countries. I mean, I think countries have also kind of re questioned or rethought their relationship with China a little bit. I think this has been a bit of a black eye for China. And, and, and, and it’s not it’s not all China’s fault, really. But I mean, I think, you know, China just hasn’t, you know, the Chinese very thin skinned and they haven’t really reacted that well to some of the criticism that’s been leveled towards them. And so they’ve kind of lashed out a little bit and and and, you know, we Seeing developments on the Indian Chinese border as well. And so India is really starting to rethink its relationship to China. And so I think a lot of countries in the region are looking shoulders to kind of create a unified kind of front against what they perceive to be, you know, negative externalities coming from China’s particularly economic coercion or or some forms of aggression. But on the other hand, you have to realize that, you know, most economies in the region are are deeply interlinked with China and their their businesses have benefited enormously from from from that reality and that includes Australia, that includes Japan. So I wouldn’t really say it’s a question of decoupling, but it’s just a question of you know, ordering your your security and supply chain relationships and a few other things.
Fred Rocafort 6:01
Simon sticking with China for a little bit and talking perhaps a little bit more about perceptions of China within Australia. Given that and I think this is true for both, both of us, both both Jonathan and me, as China watchers, most probably the Australia related news that we get on our on our Twitter feeds have to do with with China in one way or another. And maybe that in itself accounts for for a certain for a certain flavor in in some in terms of the articles that that that cross, at least my path. But there are there are stories that that that I read about Chinese interference or allegedly Chinese interference in Australian universe. Cities and local governments. Could you talk a little bit about this, and especially taking into account that you worked in China, so you have a wider perspective on the topic than the average Australian. I mean, how much of this is is simply a certain slant in the, in the news that that we’re getting over here and how much of it is is actually reflecting real trends?
Simon Lacey 7:28
Yeah, look, I think it’s very healthy to maintain a certain sense of skepticism towards what you read. Particularly in the mainstream media, it’s always good to be open to sort of counter narratives or you know, dissenting opinions or whatever you want to call them. I mean, I when I, you know, I just came back to Australia after 30 years abroad and one of the first things that really hit me coming back here when I was walking through you know, department stores and stuff was just how everything here is is made in China and just how deeply interlinked the economies are and how great that has been for for Australia and for consumers the world over. But I mean, if you look at, if you look at the media coverage, it does tend to be predominantly negative. And there’s this kind of one narrative that seems to dominate, which is fairly sensationalist. Fairly conspiratorial, and that’s true in the Western media, I’m sorry, in the US media as well. I mean, I just before I came on online this morning for this interview, I did check, you know, the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times kind of the stories that we’re running on China, and there’s nothing really positive there. I mean, so about Hong Kong. The national security law about technological decoupling, there’s nothing positive there. And there is good news coming out of China. There’s a lot of good news coming out of China. It’s a big country. But there there are no Western media outlets really covering that. So for example, there’s a lot of really good stuff happening in China, on on the circular economy, for example, right, the Chinese are really making great strides there. And and nobody covers that. And the only good news coming out of China is really from Shin Hwa or CCTV. And of course we don’t we don’t really trust that stuff. Because we know that it’s it’s Chinese government propaganda. And I you know, I was talking to a guy, one of my good friends is guy called Dan Shrum, who, who works for the Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong. And I was telling him, you know, I think we were talking about the fact that all of these us, journalists just got expelled from from China and and so you know, we were commiserating a little Bear with them. But But then when I when I went to look at kind of the history of the stories that they’ve been filing predominantly negative and and so I’m thinking well, you know if these guys never write anything positive about China Of course Chinese government’s gonna think twice about renewing their visas and so I wonder if it’s a problem with the reporters or if it’s actually their news editors that just spike any story that doesn’t fit in with the accepted narrative or how it works, but they’re definitely we’re definitely getting a very negative slant to all of the stories coming out of China if we’re, if we’re just sticking with the the main the mainstream media, you know, I mean, using the term mainstream media makes me sound like Donald Trump, who also actually gets a pretty bad rap in the in the mainstream, maybe predominantly negative. But, um, but yeah, that that’s, that’s not my intention. I just think you need to you need to look a little bit more Broadly, in terms of sources of information, if you really want to understand a place as complex as China,
Jonathan Bench 11:07
and that, of course, is a great segue into what I wanted to ask you about next, which is, tell us about Huawei. I mean, it as an outsider, as a friend said, as a serious China follower. I’m very intrigued into what you did there. How you were, how you were accepted as an outsider, whether you had certain things you felt you had to deal with it that maybe your co workers didn’t, or maybe you had it easier than your co workers. Did. You know, I mean, I want the good, bad and the ugly, right.
Simon Lacey 11:37
Look, I think I have to admit that the flyaway was probably the high point of my career. I mean, it was just really interesting work. Up until then, most of my work had been done. Either in think tanks, academia, or I mean, I did a lot of work, kind of advising and training. Governments in developing countries about a WTO and international trade negotiations and FTA negotiations and these sort of things, but, you know, finally was really the first time since since after I graduated law school and was working in a law firm in Zurich, was really the first time that I’d spent any time in the, in the private sector. And, and so, it was really interesting having a look at how all of these issues were perceived and acted upon by by a big private sector, multinational in the technology space.And, and, and so, I think, I mean, look, the good, the bad and the ugly. I mean, that could take a few hours, but I I’ll say this, I mean, the I worked in a team of trade experts, which has since actually been disbanded, which was I find really incredible. And I’d already taken the decision to leave before that decision was made to disband the team of trade experts. But the team was really assembled back in about 2000. I want to say 13, 14, probably 2014. I joined in 2015, the team of trade experts was assembled. Because while they had found itself on the wrong side of a couple of anti dumping and countervailing duty investigations in the US, and so sorry, in the EU, and so it felt that it needed to have a little bit more expertise in house to manage this. And so they put together a team and when I was there, the team actually reached its highest number of people we were six, so we’re six foreigners, six Chinese. And and you know, it was it was a bit of a challenge getting any traction on on our issues. Because management in fact, nobody really understood outside of what we were doing. Nobody really understood even our even the Chinese guys that we were reporting to directly, didn’t really understand what what it was we were doing and why it was important. Unless there was a case, unless there was an open case against Huawei in terms of anti dumping action. They really, they really didn’t see where the trade team add a lot of value. And so that was, that was a little bit frustrating. But I mean, you know, you you kind of learn to roll with the punches and add value where you can. We had an annual exercise that we did, which was the trade risk map. So we would look at sort of six to 12 countries, and we would we would do some reporting on where we saw the biggest risks over the next one to two years. Coming from from both a trade and investment policy and legislative perspective, and that was very interesting work I took over that work in 2016. And that was that was really interesting in terms of the challenges. I mean, you know, when when you’re a Westerner and a big Chinese firm like that, you’re really at a disadvantage in terms of access to the information flow. You’ve got to you’ve got to have good contacts, you’ve got to have a trusted relations with with a few Chinese colleagues, who will kind of tell you what’s really going on in the firm. I was very lucky I had that, but it took me about a year and a half to get to that point. With my Chinese colleagues, I found that in, in in a Western environment, if you join a team, you know, depending on the atmosphere in the company, it will be assumed people will assume that they can trust you Until you prove that you’re not trustworthy. But in a Chinese context that was it was the opposite. You know, it was assumed that you couldn’t be trusted until until you prove that that you could which, you know is fair enough. It’s just another way of looking at things I guess another way of approaching relationships but but once I earned that trust you know, my Chinese colleagues were really were really great and really supported me and and, you know, got my back when whenever I needed it. But yeah, it was great. It was great experienced, you know, I would say about almost five years and I felt that at that point, it did kind of added I kind of learned enough and it did add added a, you know, a lot of value to my career. But it was time to it was time to move on.
Fred Rocafort 16:51
What you just said now about people assuming that you cannot be trusted, right? How bad inverted order of things as opposed to, to the way we typically see things that that certainly certainly resonates, especially with, with my my first experience working in a, in a Chinese company, which was not my first working experience in China. Right. And that happened after a couple of years. Certainly, I think we could have a an entire episode on working in China and having having a panel of folks who have had that experience. Um, but moving on. I know that you’ve spent some quality time in Indonesia, as we described in the intro. That is a country that is of great interest to both of us, both to Jonathan and to me. And we certainly like to have someone from Indonesia on the show before before too long. However, could you please tell us a little bit more about about your experience? And more specifically, what are your views on the country’s prospects I, I consider Indonesia to be one of the greatest discoveries that I made during my time in Asia. I didn’t get around to visiting until the latter years of my time over there. And I was very surprised. It is one of those places where my expectations did not align with, with what I ended up seeing, and in a good way, it turned out to be, you know, my expectations were were exceeded considerably. So I am not, I mean, I don’t know very much about the country, but based on what I do know, I, let’s just say I’m at the very least, I’m very, very curious about what will happen. Somewhat optimistic about what could be accomplished, but I’d love to have the views of someone who actually knows what he’s talking about in this.
Simon Lacey 19:08
Right? Yeah, I mean, I had a similar experience to you with Indonesia. I mean, I I’d been living in Switzerland about 15 years in 2004 2005. And I kind of knew that I was done with Switzerland. I was done with Europe, and I wanted to go to Asia. I knew Asia was where I wanted to be. I’d already done a bunch of work there. I’d done some work in Taiwan. I’d done some work in Vietnam. Singapore, loved Singapore. And, but Indonesia never really came up. I mean, I never really thought about Indonesia as a place to move to or to work in or whatever. So I ended up I ended up moving to Singapore and and then straight away getting sucked into a bunch of trade related technical assistance work USA ID funds did work in Indonesia and was also blown away by just how much potential the the country had and just how amazing it was to live there. As an experience, you know, it’s funny I came across this paper written by Richard Nixon of all people, I think it’s in foreign policy 1968 and in 1968, Richard Nixon before he became president was arguing that you know, we’re wasting our time here in Vietnam, we should be in Indonesia and and and I read that only like two years ago or something, and I I just thought, oh, wow, that’s really interesting. And, and, and so Indonesia was off a lot of people’s right. I don’t think Nixon got a lot of traction with that. But But Indonesia was just off a lot of people’s right. But, you know, the thing you have to remember about Indonesia, though, is I think there’s a saying about Brazil, which goes that Brazil Well is the country of tomorrow and always will be. And you know, you could say the same thing about Indonesia. I mean, Indonesia is a place that will never get its act together, I think in any major way. I mean, it has the potential to be a regional superpower, just in terms of the the population size and the natural resources and the sheer size of the country. But it just doesn’t lack the coherency or the unified vision. I mean, it’s just basically a random collection of islands that were thrown together that encompasses different ethnic groups, different linguistic groups thrown together under this notion of pancha Silla University in sorry, what is it, unity and diversity, and and I’d be really surprised if it makes Any progress, you know up the value chain in terms of economic sophistication anytime soon, that, you know, this is something they’ve been trying to do for many decades and Vietnam has left them in the dust. Thailand is way ahead of them. So look, I mean, I love Indonesia, I think it’s a great place. I really love the people. They’re super friendly. And they’re smart. They’re just really smart people. But I think they’re just too many obstacles in their way for them really to match any of the any of the impressive, bootstrapping up the value chain that we’ve seen in places like Vietnam or even Thailand.
Jonathan Bench 22:48
So I’d love to ask you a question. Now since you’ve spent a lot of time in Southeast Asia, if you were to say give us your back of the envelope ranking of countries other than China. Let’s say leave out China, Japan and South Korea. You want to give us your top five on on the order of kind of promise or like they’ve been able to execute very well on, like you said about Vietnam been able to execute very well on on improving their country from where they were two or three decades ago.
Simon Lacey 23:19
Yeah, look, I mean, I think, um, I think what really helps is to have a very healthy sense of paranoia. And and so, you know, if you look at why Singapore developed, Singapore was the, you know, this small city state that had some very big and very antagonistic neighbors. First of all, Malaysia, but actually much more importantly, Indonesia. I mean, people forget that. Singaporean troops actually fired on and killed Indonesian troops as recently As the 1970s in in Johor, just across the, the causeway and and so you know, Singapore from from the moment it was founded was kind of in a race to, to obtain military but but predominantly economic security because it understood that, you know, wouldn’t have Millett military security unless it had economic security. So Singapore has done a really good job. I mean, in Taiwan as well, if you look at the development of Taiwan, you know, Chiang Kai Shek, who was famously you know, the regime of Chiang Kai Shek was famously corrupt and incompetent. They, they basically decided to get their act together back in the 70s and 80s. Because they realized unless some unless they could become much stronger economically, but also unless they could embrace democratic values. There’s no way that the Americans will be riding to their rescue if, if China decided to grab them. So there’s this, there’s Taiwan. There’s a really good book about this called how Asia Works by a guy called Joe Studwell. And he, he kind of goes through what has worked and what has not worked in Asia. And so he compares, he compares Korea and Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan and other you know, places that worked. He also has a chapter on China, he looks at Korea. And and and so but he’s just looking at the economics of it. And and, and basically you need to, you know, you need to start with agriculture. And then you need to have some very sensible reforms in agriculture, including land reform, which is an incredibly difficult, but then you also have to invest in things like extension services, and really To create economically viable agricultural sector and then after that you need to go into manufacturing. And manufacturing is all about subjecting your, your companies to export discipline because if they can’t export, then they shouldn’t receive any state support or any subsidies. And then finally, Joe Studwell in this book, he looks at finance and and he says, you know, the last thing you should be doing is is framing your capital account or opening your financial markets to international flows. You need to keep your cash in the country and you need to make it support the goals of you know, boosting your agricultural as well as your your manufacturing capacity. So that’s the economic case. So if you look at who’s achieved that, you know, you’ve got you’ve got success stories like like Korea, like China like Japan, but no, I think I think Thailand has done done quite well. Because it’s been open to a lot of FDI from from places like Japan and Korea. So having having an open investment environment has helped them a lot. And, and it’s not only about having an open investment a barn environment, but it’s also about having, you know, some degree of regulatory governance that allows for predictability. And I think Thailand has done has done a very good job of that where Indonesia has has sort of fallen down a bit. But I mean, the real success story is probably Vietnam, and Vietnam. Vietnam had, you know, this healthy paranoia that the Chinese were going to march across their border again, and they needed they needed to have economic strength. And so they’ve they’ve really bootstrap their way up to the you know, they’ve overtaken many of their peers in a in ASEAN that started much lighter and turn themselves into, you know, a manufacturing economy.
Fred Rocafort 28:04
Simon you, you bring up this idea of what works and what doesn’t work. And that reminds me of some of what I’ve seen you write about and on LinkedIn comments that you’ve made. And I’m going from memory here. So I’m going to paraphrase but it from what I recall you you’ve been somewhat critical of, let’s say, the the stalling of market economic reform in China, and some of the the slide back towards more state led models I could be well, so So why don’t we do this? Why don’t you first clarify if in fact, those are those are views that you have? And maybe if so, you could maybe talk a little bit about that and some of the dangers that might lie ahead for China if if they don’t get back On on a track of reform.
Simon Lacey 29:04
right, So look, um in my mind the news. They’re a fairly non ideological, I mean, I think, you know, in, in the in the US, you know, you’ve got organizations like the heritage foundation and you’ve got this kind of, you’ve got this kind of religious obsession with, with market capitalism and and you know, you tend to overlook a lot of its flaws. Whereas in you know, other places like China, you’ve got this very heavy handed state. And I think, I think, you know, you just need to recognize that there is a very important role for the state in markets and it’s not actually just oversight. It’s also to provide public goods and, and to provide investment where there’s no kind of market case for doing so. And so If you look at how the US technology sector started, it was actually fairly state led. So if you look at it, what happened in the US back in the 1950s, there was this sort of Sputnik moment, which was a real wake up call for the US. And it’s rice with, you know, against the Soviet Union for technological supremacy and getting into space. And, and there was massive investment done in the semiconductor industries and in aerospace. And that really kind of gave the US its its edge technologically and then that was just built a built upon over, you know, succeeding decades. In China, the Chinese are actually trying to replicate this experience. I mean, the Chinese, what you have to understand is the Chinese Communist Party cadres they spend a lot of time in, in these party schools kind of stuff. Studying the lessons of history. Now, of course, they they come up, they come at it with their own kind of skewered perspective, as we all do, when we look back at history, and we sort of interpret it in, in light of, you know, our, our realities and our prejudices, but but, you know, the Chinese look at how America developed and how they develop their technological sector, and they see that there was a lot of state involvement. Despite, you know, statements by guys like Bill Gates, who says that, you know, it was a miracle of the private sector was all private sector led, that’s just not true. You go back and you look at the history books, and you’ll see that there was a lot of state intervention in in getting the US technology sector to where it is now. So the Chinese have looked at them and they’re like, Okay, well, we need to replicate that. And, and the problem there is that if you look at all of the really breakthrough innovation, that’s happened. In China, it’s happened in the Chinese private sector and Huawei is probably the biggest, biggest example. But you’ve also got firms like Tencent, you’ve got firms like Ali Baba, you’ve got you’ve got, you know, predominantly private sector firms who are really at the cutting edge in China technologically and and the firm’s that are not cutting it technologically like the ones that are building their high speed trains, and who are trying to catch up to the US in things like avionics and stuff. Also semiconductors, they’re just not cutting it. Because I you know, you’d have to go and really look at why but my sense is that they just don’t have the pressure that competing in a very contestable market imposes upon them. So you know, one of the reasons why it was so innovative is because it was starting at such a low point and, and and trying to take on established market leaders like Lucent and Nokia and Ericsson, on their own home markets, particularly in Europe. And and so that that really forced Huawei to up its game. I mean, I, you know, I can speak from from the perspective of Huawei because I work there for five years and I can really see what the driving force between some of their technological breakthroughs were. And so I i would say, the state has has an important role. But what we’ve seen in China is that it has, especially since she but even even kind of since really 2006. You’ve seen a steady kind of encroachment on on the private sector in China. And I think, you know, you’ve seen this reassertion of party first Government first government leads the private sector follows and that ultimately is going to be very unhealthy for China. And it just, it just makes, it just creates a lot of bad blood on on third markets where Chinese firms are competing. You know, I spent a lot of time talking to policymakers in the EU when I was at Huawei, and and they’re very, they’re very distrustful of Chinese firms because they they see they see them as a front for dominance, by by China in a whole bunch of technologies that are really important for for the economy and where European as well as American firms compete against China on on their home markets and on third country markets.
Jonathan Bench 34:49
So I mean, you recently made the jump to academia. curious what that move has been like, you know, why you made the decision and ultimately, how You’re looking to make your mark there.
Simon Lacey 35:02
Okay, so yeah, look I, I had been in academia before I joined Huawei I was running a think tank in Jakarta on trade and investment and then I was actually planning on coming back to Australia and running a PhD at u and w where I am now University of New South Wales. And, and then I got a call from a headhunter in Guangdong row who recruits for Huawei, and he, he kind of asked if I’d be interested in taking up this role, and at first I wasn’t really that interested, but the more he talked about it, and the more I saw what kind of work it would be, I thought that that does sound really interesting. So I kind of put off the plan to come back to Australia and I’m getting to academia for a few years and now this is kind of where I’ve ended up. So I think it you know, it has some advantages visa v working in In the private sector, so I did a, I did quite a bit of writing when I was at Huawei and I wrote a company wide paper on trade and investment rules for the digital economy back in 2016 17. And then I, I wrote some other stuff for the for the company but but you know, the The problem was that I you know, I said before that nobody in the company really understood what what it was we were doing. And the problem that I had at Huawei was there was these incredibly long process of internal consultation, getting people to sign off on what it was I was writing and getting stuff cleared for publication. The guys in the international media department didn’t really understand why that what we were talking about was important and why we should be publishing on it.
We needed to focus on cybersecurity and all the issues and and so it was really hard getting getting any traction and it was really hard. Stuff approved for publication when nobody internal, he understood what it was really about. And so, that’s, that’s the problem I don’t have in academia, obviously. I mean, you know, we still have some semblance of academic freedom. And even though you know, universities are basically corporations these days, governed by the profit motive as much as as any other part of the economy, but I mean, we still have some notion of academic freedom. And so I can, I can really publish what I want without asking, you know, for permission. But if I, if I publish anything that kind of goes against the podium, the prevailing narrative, I need to make sure I have my facts straight because then you know, I might, I might get challenged on something. So, so that’s been very refreshing. And, and obviously, the cultural context here is very different than then China. I mean, this is a cultural context that I understand very well, because I spent, you know, some formative years in Australia spent about 10 years in Australia growing up. And so, you know, Australia is something that I understand quite well. So yeah, I mean that I think the challenge, the challenge in academia is, is maintaining visibility and maintaining relevance. Whereas, you know, when you work for a multinational, like Huawei, which is, you know, in the newspapers every day, for both the wrong and the right reasons. relevance is not a problem. You know, you show up at a meeting or an event and you’re from Huawei. And people are like, Oh, well, let’s hear what this guy has to say. And that’s, that’s a little bit different in academia, you know, so you have to make sure you’re, you stay visible and you have to make sure you stay relevant by by publishing and writing and researching on things that people care about. Simon. Before we wrap things up, I’d like to ask you Four recommendations based on what you’re reading or watching or what you have been listening to over the past few weeks. There’s a guy called Peter Zeihan, who I think is based in somewhere in Colorado. I used to work for strat for and he’s written a bunch of books, one of which is called, I think his famous book was the accidental superpower that really got him noticed a few years ago. Then he wrote something called the absent superpower Two years later, and he’s just come out recently with a book called this United Nations.
So Peter Zeihan has a really interesting take on everything. It’s a bit of a counter narrative. He doesn’t see China as a threat. For example, he you know, in the medium to long term, he sees China as basically a basket case. But his his whole thesis is that, you know, the the the international order that we’ve had since the Second World War is in a is in the process of collapse. And that’s very, that’s very interesting. I don’t agree with everything that he says. But I think he’s got some really interesting analysis and some interesting arguments. So I would recommend this United Nations from Peter Zeihan There’s another really good book by two Wall Street Journal reporters. Is it Superpower Showdown? Yeah, that’s just come out. That’s Bob Davis and Lingling Wei That’s got some really great insights into how the Trump administration managed relationship with China over the last few years, but also how that relationship evolved over sort of the last 30 years since the Trump administration. So Superpower Showdown is really good.
And then, look, I think I think the most influential book of the decade for me, has been a book that nobody has really heard of, called America Inc. by Linda Weiss and spelled weiss. And Linda Weiss is actually an academic at the University of Sydney. And she she’s the one that has really gone back and documented how the US technology industry got started back to Sputnik. And I there’s another book called the Entrepreneurial State by a woman whose whose name I can never pronounce and and she covers a lot of the same ground as Linda Weiss and she actually made it onto the Financial Times reading list or something. So a lot of people have heard of this book, the Entrepreneurial State and have read that but less so this book by Linda Weiss which is called America Inc. and and I would really recommend I would really recommend that. Yeah, the entrepreneur, the entrepreneurial state is written by a woman called Mariana Mazzucato. And it’s quite well known, but the better book is actually America Inc, by Linda Weiss and, and it’s actually much harder to read as well, because it’s it’s really an academic tone. But, but it’s really it really kind of opens your eyes on, on just how interlinked the US private sector is with the American kind of military industrial complex, which is, which is huge. I mean, people just don’t realize how intertwined those two economies are. Anyway, those would be my like, top three, I guess,
Fred Rocafort 42:45
Jonathan, I know you’ll want to say something about Peter Zeihan on but also please share with us your your end recommendations.
Jonathan Bench 42:53
My two recommendations for this week are kind of hit both ends of the political spectrum because on one side We have James Comey’s a Higher Loyalty, about his time in the Trump administration. And then on the other side, we have John Bolton’s book, the Room Where it Happened. And they were both very intimately involved with with the dealings of the Trump administration. It’s very for me, it’s very fun. It’s kind of a I don’t really like reality TV shows, but I do like reality political books. And so I recommend both of those kind of as counterweights to each other. I’m still working my way through John Bolton’s book, but certainly I’m enjoying and you know, everything, everything in every kind of book like this, I tell all book, you take it with a grain of salt, because you know, the author is is to some degree posturing, their their representation of the facts and how they acted in a situation. So, but certainly very interesting reads. Fred, how about you for this week?
Fred Rocafort 43:53
Well, I have two recommendations. The first one is actually a recommendation that was supposed to be in one of our earlier shows and just just didn’t make it onto the final version but I I took a look after after hearing about it and thought it was actually a very good read. So it’s in keeping with the with the theme that Jonathan’s been reading about so this is a an article from the New Yorker, What Fiona Hill Learned in the White House and it is a pretty detailed piece on what working in the in the White House was like for for a few on a hill in particular but of course, with broader lessons if you will, on what that experience is or has been for for a lot of people and also provide some insight into into what what the White House is like these days, so that you can find it on the website. The the author is Adam Entous I probably butchered that but published on the on June 22 of this year. And then the second recommendation it’s a something more lighthearted one of the things that I’ve been doing over the past few months I’ve been I’ve found myself watching travel videos and probably part of that is a way of making up for all the, for all the actual trips that are that are not taking place. There’s there’s a lot of good stuff out there, but just one in particular that that I’d like to single out and also serve as a sort of general placeholder for the entire genre. There’s a guy called Noel Phillips and he does have a focus on on aviation with with which I enjoy. But a lot of what he does, by, by necessity involves travel. And I find there’s there’s just something about it. I the guy has a certain style very sort of homely character but it but it makes for very relaxing watching and his last few videos they’re they’re very timely because it he has to travel in the midst of all this so so there’s there’s some of that frustration that the traveler feels because of all the travel restrictions but overall overall it’s it’s entertaining he’s he’s been putting out some some good content you know involving travel in the in the COVID-19 era and that will YouTube will probably give you some some other recommendations of good things. So that’s the second one Noel Phillips and his i think i think the name of it of the series is In Flight Video or something like that. So that’s it for me, Simon I’d like to, once again thank you for being with us today. Really, really enjoyed today’s conversation. And hopefully we’ll we’ll be able to do it again before too long.
Simon Lacey 47:14
Thank you guys. It was good talking to you.
Jonathan Bench 47:17
We hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. We look forward to connecting with you on social media to continue to discuss developments in global law and business. and tune in next week for another episode. We’ll see you then
Transcribed by https://otter.ai