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We are witnessing the loosening of the international trade order as the U.S. initiated trade war against its trading partners intensifies. At such a pivotal point, this book aims to explain why China, South Korea and Japan’s responses to U.S. protectionist pressures are different. This book argues that the East Asian states responses have not been uniform, not merely owing to the geopolitical underpinnings of the bilateral relationships, but because of the institutional variance in trade policymaking in each of the countries. For the longest time, scholars have relied on the existence of bilateral security alliances in order to gauge policy responses from U.S. trading partners in times of U.S. economic pressures. This book offers an alternative narrative of institutionalism for predicting state responses, and argues through a two-step process that involves a) identifying the dominant player in the trade policymaking based on the levels of bureaucratic autonomy, and b) deciphering the policy preferences of the dominant player in each political system. My central argument in this book is that if we are to forecast the behavior of states in the trade war, relying solely on the geopolitical dimension for analysis is far from the complete picture, especially at a time when geopolitics and geoeconomics go hand in hand. Moreover, the containment logic that the U.S. continues to impose is losing momentum and is not likely to result in success, because times have changed.

This book project is enriched by a 2019-2020 Next Generation Researchers Grant of the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2019S1A5B5A07106479). It is based on a decade of on-site research consisting of interviews with government officials, policy analysts, lawyers, academics, and business persons in addition to archival research in Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, and Washington, DC (2010-20).

Chapter 0.

PREFACE: The U.S. and Them

Populism and the moment of truth in 2016

Ecosystems of the future

Monolithic vs. Multipolar (G-0) World
Chapter 1.
INTRO: The U.S. Plays the Old Game

What is missing in geopolitics since the GFC

Where we are in the 4th industrial revolution and AI

Containment logic is outdated

Geoeconomics is no longer only a toolkit
Chapter 2.
HISTORY: Different Paths Taken

Geopolitical shifts – always the U.S. option

Learning by doing – Japan and Germany in the Plaza Accord

On its own terms – South Korea and China post-WTO accession

Learning to play the game – Japan steps up to the plate
Chapter 3.
ARGUMENT: Predict Policy Moves by Institutional Variance

Political Systems

Bureaucratic Autonomy

Dominant Players

Policy Preferences
Chapter 4.
RESPONSES: Different Degrees in Retaliatory Measures

China: “Strike back just as hard.”

-Political System: Authoritarian

-Bureaucratic Autonomy: None, only empowered

-Dominant Players: The Party and the CFEAC

-Policy Preferences: Escalation & Desperate resistance

South Korea: “Prove ’em wrong.”

-Political System: Presidential and formerly dictatorial

-Bureaucratic Autonomy: Some but subservient

-Dominant Players: The V.I.P. and presidential aides

-Policy Preferences: Rebuttal & Refutational defense

Japan: “Settle than file.”

-Political System: Parliamentarian

-Bureaucratic Autonomy: High as a technocracy

-Dominant Players: The technocrats of MOF & METI supported by the PM

-Policy Preferences: Acquiescence & Selective adjudication
Chapter 5.
THE CASES: Trade Wars & Currency Conflicts in Action

Trade Remedies: Antidumping, Countervailing and Safeguard Duty Levies

China: Most like the USTR - CCP and the CFEAC, negotiations with the U.S.

South Korea: Like the EU TBR - KTC beholden to MOTIE

Japan: Matters left in the private sector’s hands with exceptions

WTO Disputes: Consultations, Panel Reports, Appellate Body Rulings and Implementation

China: CCP wielding power via MOC

South Korea: The V.I.P. Veto Power to MOTIE

Japan: MOF and METI’s policy preferences

Currency Appreciation Pressures: U.S. Treasury Designations, Pressures and Central Bank Independence

China: PBOC responses

South Korea: MOSF and BOK responses

Japan: MOF and BOK responses
Chapter 6.
THE STAKES: Inside Today’s Trade Wars

Tariffs – Trade remedy and WTO disputes

Currencies – Beggar-thy-neighbor policies and digital currencies

Tech – 5G, AI and semiconductor chips

Energy – From fossil fuel, nuclear to renewables

Cyber – The new warfare of IP theft and cyber industrial espionage
Chapter 7.
RELEVANCE: The ‘So What?’ Question

Recognizing the New Normal

Utilizing the Policy Move Predictor

Setting up Strategies for the Future
Chapter 8.
CONCLUSION: It’s Who Decides What that Matters

Trade wars and currency conflict in everyday life

Geopolitical clashes - US, Russia and China

Geoeconomic territories – Belt and Road Initiative vs. everything else

Upcoming Book Project Programs, Workshops and Meetings

  • GWIKS Book Publication Workshop (Washington, DC: September 18, 2020)
  • APSA Asia Program (Seoul: July 5-11, 2020)
  • Harvard IGLP Scholars Workshop, Chapter 5 review with faculty advisers (Bangkok: June 7-11, 2020)
  • Research Information Service of the National Library of Korea (RINK), Academic Book Publication Program (July 25, 2019-July 25, 2020)

Past Book Project Programs, Workshops and Meetings

  • Harvard IGLP Scholars Workshop, Book Prospectus review with faculty advisers (Bangkok: January 6-10, 2019)
  • APSA Annual Meeting and Convention, Book Exhibition and Meetings with Editors (Boston: August 30-September 2, 2018)
  • Presentation of Chapter 1, International Relations and East Asia (IREA) Online Colloquium via Google Hangouts (February 6, 2018)
  • 2017 Wesleyan Conference on East Asia (Spring 2017)
  • APSA Annual Meeting and Convention, Book Exhibition and Meetings with Editors (Philadelphia: September 1-4, 2016; San Francisco: September 1-3, 2017)
  • International Publishing Workshop, Asia Pacific Early Career Researchers Program, ISA Asia-Pacific Conference (June 24, 2016)