Could There be a Trade War Between China and the West?

TV/Radio Broadcast BBC World Service
As the U.S trade deficit becomes increasingly politicized in the face of high unemployment and a global contraction in demand, there is an increasing likelihood of trade tensions with net surplus countries, especially China.
Related Media and Tools

Concerns are growing that the current slowdown in global trade will lead to a damaging trade war between China and Western countries. When Western unemployment was low, there was less concern about growing trade deficits in the United States and Europe. With high unemployment, the issue of trade deficits has become more politicized. Countries that are running large trade deficits are increasingly eager to bring those deficits down.

This has countries running large trade surpluses, such as China, concerned. China's economic strength relies in no small part on its ability to produce goods for sale abroad. As consumer demand drops, exporting countries must contend for larger shares of a smaller global market.

"A number of countries are trying to increase their share of global demand in order to justify their domestic manufacturing," explains Michael Pettis. "Especially the trade surplus countries, that have relied very heavily on foreign demand. China is the largest trade surplus country in history, as a share of global GDP."


End of document

In Fact



of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.


million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3


now needs urgent assistance.


political parties

contested India’s last national elections.


of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.


years ago

Carnegie began an internship program. Notable alumni include Samantha Power.


of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.


of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.


of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.


of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.


million people killed

in Cold War conflicts.


of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.


billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.


billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.


increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.


billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.


of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.


new airports

are set to be built in China by 2015.



were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.


of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.


million Russian citizens

are considered “ethnic Muslims.”

Stay in the Know

Enter your email address to receive the latest Carnegie analysis in your inbox!

Personal Information
Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
No. 1 East Zhongguancun Street, Building 3 Tsinghua University Science Park, Chuangye Building, Room 408 Haidian District, Beijing 100084 China