Some pundits are full of conventional wisdom, others try to be contrarian. Weijian Shan is a good mix. One reason is that though he writes the occasional highly provocative commentaries, including for this newspaper, he is more of a scholar and a big-time investor. He has to put his money – millions and millions – where his mouth is. Recently, he rounded on me for making an erroneous claim about China’s nine-dash line in the South China Sea. I thought he misunderstood but he proved to be far more knowledgeable than me. His latest take on China and the United States, from an interview with the chief editor of the Harvard Business Review , makes many intriguing observations. Some points are hardly contentious. For example, “China has been shifting away from an investment-driven growth model to one led by private consumption”, but it’s not doing it fast enough. “The state-owned sector remains too big and inefficient.” They need to be privatised, alongside expanding private consumption, to maintain future growth. What kind of capitalism does the world need? There’s only one choice But some of his claims are counterintuitive and probably controversial to many people. Nevertheless, I think he is right on the money. People don’t know how capitalist China is: “China’s rapid economic growth is the result of its embrace of a market economy and private enterprise. China is among the most open markets in the world: It is the largest trading nation and also the largest recipient of foreign direct investment, surpassing the United States in 2020.” Or on how socialist the US is, he said, “with its Social Security system and its policies to tax the rich by collecting capital gains taxes. China is still in the process of building a social safety net that is largely undefined and underfunded, and it has no tax on personal capital gains. In 2020 China had more billionaires than the US did … Consequently, inequality is greater in China than in the United States.” China poses no ideological threat: “A rising China may be a threat to America’s economic and technological supremacy, but not to its national security, because China doesn’t export its ideology or political system and doesn’t seek regime change anywhere in the world. But it won’t back off from its territorial claims, all of which predate the People’s Republic of China. The real danger is the Taiwan issue.” That sounds right. I wonder how many US politicians would listen, though.