Domestic Politics and US-China Trade Disputes over Renewable Energy

Ka Zeng
September 2015
Journal of East Asian Studies;Sep-Dec2015, Vol. 15 Issue 3, p423
Academic Journal
In this article I draw on the two-level game approach to analyze the influence of domestic politics on US-China trade disputes in alternative energy, especially in solar energy. I suggest that the difficulty Washington faces in getting China to address market access barriers in alternative energy needs to be viewed in light of both the coalitional dynamics in the United States resulting from the specific bilateral trade and investment relationship in this sector and Beijing's willingness to use industrial policy to foster economic competitiveness in nascent industries. Specifically, as China occupies the middle of the supply chain in the solar industry, both downstream users of low-cost Chinese imports and exporters of upstream products to China have voiced strong concerns about US trade action. Such domestic opposition, coupled with the importance of industrial policy for defending the country's long-term interests in a "strategic emerging" sector such as alternative energy, substantially constrains Washington's ability to influence Chinese policies.


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