The ongoing trade dispute between China and the United States threatens to compromise the prevailing rules of global political economy and its growth prospects. Moreover, some analysts see this dispute to be more about politics than economics, implicating national security and competition to pioneer and dominate the next generation of advance technologies. The politics involved also have a domestic dimension with relative (and even absolute) winners and losers across different geographic regions, economic sectors, and demographic groups within each country. Naturally, the Sino-American trade dispute can moreover realign production chains and political partnerships across interstate boundaries. What can some “stylized facts” from existing research on economic statecraft, interstate signaling, and domestic partisanship tell us about this ongoing dispute? Instead of giving a detailed account of the negotiation process or predicting its likely outcome (including possibly a perpetual deadlock or semi-truce), this presentation introduces basic ideas that can help to orient more systematic and strategic thinking about this specific dyadic dispute and more generally, a world facing a more protectionist U.S. professing an “America First” doctrine.
About the Speaker
Steve Chan is College Professor of Distinction at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he teaches political science. He was the recipient of the Karl W. Deutsch award given by the International Studies Association, the Distinguished Scholar award given by this Association’s Foreign Policy Section, and the Marinus Smith award in recognition of his teaching at the University of Colorado. His research interests encompass theories of international relations (such as democratic peace, power transition) and political economy (such as defence economics, developmental states, economic sanctions) with a focus on East Asia. His publications include nineteen books and about one hundred and eighty articles and chapters. His most recent books are Thucydides’s Trap? Historical Interpretation, Logic of Inquiry, and the Future of Sino-American Relations (University of Michigan Press, 2020); Trust and Distrust in Sino-American Relations (Cambria, 2017); China’s Troubled Waters? Maritime Disputes in Theoretical Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2016); Enduring Rivalries in the Asia-Pacific (Cambridge University Press, 2013); and Looking for Balance: China, the United States, and Power Balancing in East Asia (Stanford University Press, 2012).