Will trade win China the battle for supremacy in Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean?

China is the number one trading partner for all the countries in red; and number two for the countries in orange. 

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This image reminded me of Gowa and Mansfield (1993); and got me thinking about whether trade links (and associated opportunity costs) would ever matter in the choices to take sides of the two European offshoots in Asia-Pacific (and Japan) if stuff ever hit the fan in Sino-American relations. But then again that might not happen any time soon since China is already America’s No. 2 trading partner, and the US is still by far the strongest super-power the world has ever seen. By a massive margin. 

That said, the Great War is still an important cautionary tale about the dangers of getting all giddy and complacent about the end of Great Power wars on account of trade and global interconnectedness. Let’s hope that power transition theory will not apply to the case of Chinese economic (and military) rise to rival the United States of America.

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2 thoughts on “Will trade win China the battle for supremacy in Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean?

  1. 3 quick points:

    1-I thought it was worth mentioning that this particular child’s face was at least partially obscured–not to say that makes it ok.

    2- Also, there are ways to use a photo of a child appropriately. I would have liked to have heard Easterly comment on whether this boy and his parents parents gave permission for the pic (and whether they also get an advance copy of the book).

    3- As an aspiring tyrannical expert, I’d like an advance copy too.

    Editor, RwandaWire

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  2. Besides the Indian Ocean I’m not sure what this has to do with Africa.

    Whatever the case, trade is important but to use it for supremacy requires people thinking that the system works well enough in a hegemony’s hands (as Drezner argues the U.S. has managed to do with several critical international organizations) and having unresolved territorial conflicts with other nations isn’t helping China’s ambitions. Remember that several of the reasons that World War I started was over territorial disputes in central and eastern Europe.

    Looking at China’s position, it has good trade ties with many nations but territorial disputes with the following: India, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and South Korea. It of course is true that no anti-Chinese military alliance exists and that territorial disputes can be negotiated over, after all China did just that with Russia and Tajikistan. However currently it does not look as though these particular issues will go away any time soon and the longer it continues the more neighboring nations will be resentful and more inclined to see China as the problem rather than the guarantor of regional wealth.

    Incidentally Mr. Terrill, I believe your comment is in the wrong post.

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