The US-China trade war: dissecting the role of supremacy battles and China’s reactions and counter-measures

Author: Sulaiman Alqaydhi

Alqaydhi, Sulaiman, 2019 The US-China trade war: dissecting the role of supremacy battles and China’s reactions and counter-measures, Flinders University, College of Business, Government and Law

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Abstract The aim of this research is to dissect the US-China trade war and determine the underlying factors in the impasse. There have been numerous assumptions previously made about the factors promoting the war with a larger percentage of the blame being directed on trade-related issues. The trade-related issues in this case are the actions by China that the US believes are not appropriate such as trade deficits, among others. The US has imposed trade tariffs on Chinese imports as a weapon to sustain the trade wars. In this research, it was necessary to investigate factors such as political, economic, and technological supremacy and link them to the trade wars. This is because there have been trade wars in the past between China and the US without any benefit. Therefore, the assumption is that the US cannot be repeating the same thing without positive returns. It is then penned on the question of whether there are other issues that the US is pursuing but all are camouflaged in the trade wars. Moreover, the research reveals the reactions and countermeasures taken by China in response to the trade wars instigated by the Trump administration. The research bases its problem statement on protectionism as the genesis of the trade wars. However, it is evident that both China and the US have applied protectionism in different aspects especially in relation to the attainment of their personal interests. The study concludes that supremacy wars in political, economic, and technological spheres contribute to the conflict as the US believes that China is becoming dominant in these areas, which is a risk to the global geopolitics and the status quo. However, even at the height of the US aggression, China has remained calm and has shown interest in exhausting diplomatic approaches to quell the conflict and retain the economic cooperation that the two leading economies have been enjoying across the years. The Thucydides’s Trap thesis is applicable in this case, and China has realized the importance of escaping the trap to avoid military confrontations with the US. Based on the research findings, it can be concluded that the US-China trade wars are not mainly about trade issues but they are about the historical tension that has been existing between the two antagonists whereby the US is more focused on using coercion to contain China and prevent its peaceful rise because of its potential to shake the global power balance.

Keywords: Key words: US-China trade war, trade tariffs, political, economic, and technological supremacy, Trump administration, Thucydides’s Trap, coercion, global power balance.

Subject: International Relations thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2019
School: College of Business, Government and Law
Supervisor: Michael Sullivan