US–China commercial rivalry, great war and middle powers

Bora Jeong, Hoon Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This paper examines whether the recent trade war between the US and China would lead to a great power war. In so doing, we rely on two theoretical frameworks, mercantilism and power transition theory, that are likely to link trade war to a military confrontation. Evidence shows that the trade war per se is not a sufficient condition for an all-out war between the US and China. Unlike mercantilists argue, first, we identify the importance of domestic coalitions before trade war being escalated to a military conflict. Second, we find that trade war as economic statecraft is a viable means to suppress a challenger’s capability, which may stop or delay the power transition process. The findings provide implications for middle power countries where strategic choices are required between the two major powers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-148
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Area Studies Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • US trade policy
  • US–China trade war
  • mercantilism
  • middle power
  • power transition theory


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