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Governing the Interface of U.S.-China Trade Relations
American Journal of International Law  (IF3.091),  Pub Date : 2021-07-27, DOI: 10.1017/ajil.2021.36
Gregory Shaffer

The strained U.S.-China trade relationship poses a frontal challenge to the multilateral trading system and has broad repercussions for international law. This Article addresses three dimensions of this relationship: (1) the economic dimension; (2) the geopolitical/national security dimension; and (3) the normative/social policy dimension. The Article advances a middle ground between those seeking to reinforce the World Trade Organization (WTO) system with new rules that limit the state's role in the economy, and those who reject WTO constraints in favor of a power-based system. It proposes pragmatic reforms to govern the interface of the two states’ respective systems across these three dimensions to facilitate ongoing exchange while giving each country latitude to protect itself from the externalities of the other's policies. The result would be greater room for bilateral and plurilateral bargaining, but conducted within the umbrella of the multilateral system.