Come September, Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, will announce measures for making foreign takeovers in European countries tougher. This is motivated largely by generous Chinese investment in strategic sectors such as energy and infrastructure in the European Union (EU).

The EU isn’t alone in being wary of Chinese money and the implications thereof. Reports have it that New Delhi is less than sanguine about Chinese firm Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group’s proposed $1.3 billion takeover of India’s Gland Pharma. And the US’s Committee on Foreign Investment, which reviews foreign direct investment from a national security perspective, has been an irritant for China.

These are handy reminders of two things. The first is the potential of economic leverage as a tool of statecraft. The second, a corollary, is that there are times when pragmatic considerations will trump the logic of free trade and movement of capital—as, indeed, Chinese state media speculating about a trade war with India shows.

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