The Nature of US-China Bilateral Trade Conflicts

A snapshot of a better performing economy

A snapshot of a better performing economy of the 21st century, on global ratings, takes into consideration the immense economic, military as well as diplomatic advances that the Peoples Republic of China has accumulated in less than a decade. It has nuclear weapons; military budgetary allocations which increase each financial year; engages in border disputes suggesting the countries efforts to expand its territory. With the ever-increasing army, the country positions itself for major economic advancement. The United States, on the other hand, has been comfortable superior at the top for more than a century. However, with the military, economic and diplomatic policies China is implementing, the country is likely to displace the US and establish itself as the best economy in the world in earnest; the source of US-China trade wars.

The US-China trade wars

The US-China trade wars have adopted various forms. Trump's administration has imposed a hefty import tax on Chinese imported goods such as steel and aluminum (Jacoby 1994). The decision was intended to offset the perceived threats to the country's aluminum industries. China, as a countermeasure, imposed bureaucracy in the importation and ultimate sale of American agricultural products such as soybeans (Lee, 2018). China has also resorted to building their planes with plans of eliminating the influence of Boeing, airplane manufacturing company, from Chinese markets. The end result is unending trade wars between China and the US. The most dreaded measure the Chinese can adopt is the informal harassment of the American investments in Chinese markets. Local dailies have, for instance, hinted on an ensuing intention of striking Apple among other US foreign companies with the state-sponsored boycotts, revocation of trading licenses, and surprise inspections amongst other punitive countermeasures to the US imposed sanctions to Chinese products (Beddor, 2018).

China's achievements and challenges

Further, China's achievements are enhanced by the country's enormous cheap labor, a relaxed policy on environmental protections and laxity in the protection of the intellectual property rights. There is an allegation, for instance, of possible theft to intellectual property as well as involuntary technology transfer that the US individuals are expected to make available before accessing China markets. Chinese entrepreneurs will then adopt the technology for their personal gains. The US administration instantly launched a probe aided by the age-old US constitutional provisions-which permits the president to impose punitive measures (Toft, 2009). Determination of truth to the allegation is likely to compound the US-China trade conflicts further. All the actions and counteractions the two countries exhibit posts socioeconomic and political threats to developed as well as developing countries.

Theoretical framework

The paper will exploit the provision of neoclassical realism and propose "threat-interest" theoretical framework in two stages to explore escalation of a trade war between US and China. Cooperation and competition will form the first category and the second categorization of the nature of the US-China bilateral trade conflict would be in the context of the military, economic, political as well as cultural influences. The interplay between such phenomenon as well as bilateral relationship aspects singularly and collectively defines the nature of US-China bilateral trade conflicts as economic competition and cooperation or military competition or cooperation.

Research question

Is the US-China trade conflicts shaped by economic interests or security threats?


Toft, M. D. (2009). Securing the peace: the durable settlement of civil wars. Princeton University Press.

Jacoby, W. G. (1994). Public Attitudes Toward Government Spending. American Journal of Political Science, 38(2), 336-361.

Lee, D. (2018, JAN 10). As Trump begins his second year, analysts see rising risks of a U.S. trade war with China. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved

Beddor, C. (2018, jan 10). China’s Weak Hand in Potential Trade War With U.S. Breakingviews

The New York Times. Retrieved

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