Vol. 1 No. 1 (2020): Global Connections

The United States and China’s Trade War: A Search for Global Dominance

Published May 14, 2020


Due to its negative impact on global markets, the ongoing Trade War between the United States and China has caught the eyes of the world. While there is considerable media coverage about what exactly is going on, not much is discussed regarding what is driving the dispute. This paper characterizes it as an issue of power, arguing that it shows that the United States is willing to do everything in its power to preserve its position in the international system. To reach this conclusion, an analysis was made of how these two countries have interacted since Donald Trump took office and how the relationship worsened over time due to the United States’ aggressive actions in the region. The aggressive character and sense of urgency of the Trump administration to act reveals that the main motive driving the Trade War is not what is claimed by the American government, which is reaching a fairer economic relationship, but halting Chinese growth out of fear they will shortly surpass the United States. Chinese recent actions show that they are not the one driving the conflict; they merely retaliate American tariffs with proportional economic measures. Their aggressive approach to retaliation and actions in the South China Sea, however, demonstrate that China is willing to do anything to reach a position of political and economic dominance. It also reveals a country uncertain about its own identity, driven by its willingness to acquire as much power as possible.