East Asia

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 215–232 | Cite as

Economic Interdependence and Peace: a Case Comparison Between the US-China and US-Japan Trade Disputes

  • Yaechan Lee


Liberalists have argued that increased economic interdependence will deter the likelihood of war as opportunity costs of a military conflict will not be fashionable for either side. Realists such as Waltz contended that while interdependence promotes peace to a certain extent, it also multiplies the occasions for conflicts. Dale Copeland drew perspectives from both sides to argue that interdependence may lead to peace depending on the expectations of the future trade environment. Now, with the United States’ (US) ongoing trade war with China and its legacy of trade conflicts with Japan in the 1990s, the question of whether economic interdependence brings peace deserves to be revisited. This article, through making a comparison between the cases of bilateral trade conflicts between the US and China and the US and Japan, contends that increased bilateral economic interdependence also increased the frequency of conflicts in the two respective cases. Moreover, it further argues that such increase in frequency was due to the US’s negative expectations on the future trade environment.


Trade war United States Japan China Economic interdependence 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yaechan Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.School of International StudiesPeking UniversityBeijingChina

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