ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

Between Scylla and Charybdis: Balancing National Security and Economic Interests in the Making of US “China policy”

Hugo Meijer
Sciences Po Paris
Hugo Meijer
Sciences Po Paris
Open Panel

Abstract

Since the reestablishment of their diplomatic relations, the economies of the United States and of the People’s Republic of China have grown increasingly interdependent. Coupled with the thickening of their economic relations, however, there have been growing concerns within the US government over China’s military modernisation. The US-China relationship has therefore been characterized by a mixture of mutual economic interests and competition in the military realm. The question addressed by this paper is: how does economic interdependence affect the ability of states to manage conflicting economic and national security interests and to define their foreign policy priorities? To tackle this question, we analyse the impact of economic interdependence on domestic politics and, in turn, on foreign policy making. Specifically, we contend that: (a) key domestic actors and coalitions of actors compete for the definition of the state’s foreign policy advancing their political and economic interests in the decision-making process; (b) growing levels of economic interdependence alter the balance of forces between them thereby affecting foreign policy outcomes. Combining the sociology of elites and the cognitive approach to public policy analysis, we propose a methodological framework that allows to identify rival coalitions of actors competing in a foreign policy decision-making process. This framework is adopted to examine US export control policy toward China on dual-use technologies. While growing US economic interests in the Chinese market are likely to press for liberalizing the controls on the export of dual-use technologies, their relevance for the modernisation of the People’s Liberation Army would require the maintenance of stringent controls. Given the competing interests coexisting in this case study, it allows to investigate how domestic actors coalesce around the various national security and economic interests at stake in US “China policy”, how interdependence alters their relative influence and the resulting impact on governmental policies.