Trading with the Enemy: the Making of US Export Control Policy toward the People's Republic of China | University of Oxford

Trading with the Enemy: the Making of US Export Control Policy toward the People's Republic of China

Dr Hugo Meijer (King’s College London, Sciences-Po Paris)
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In light of the intertwining logics of military competition and economic interdependence at play in US-China relations, Trading with the Enemy examines how the United States has balanced its potentially conflicting national security and economic interests in its relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). To do so, Hugo Meijer investigates a strategically sensitive yet under-explored facet of US-China relations: the making of American export control policy on military-related technology transfers to China since 1979. Trading with the Enemy is the first monograph on this dimension of the US-China relationship in the post-Cold War. Based on 199 interviews, declassified documents, and diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks, two major findings emerge from this book. First, the US is no longer able to apply a strategy of military/technology containment of China in the same way it did with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. This is because of the erosion of its capacity to restrict the transfer of military-related technology to the PRC. Secondly, a growing number of actors in Washington have reassessed the nexus between national security and economic interests at stake in the US-China relationship – by moving beyond the Cold War trade-off between the two – in order to maintain American military pre-eminence vis-à-vis its strategic rivals. By focusing on how states manage the heterogeneous and potentially competing security and economic interests at stake in a bilateral relationship, this book seeks to shed light on the evolving character of interstate rivalry in a globalised economy, where rivals in the military realm are also economically interdependent.

Hugo Meijer is Lecturer in Defence Studies at King’s College London, UK. He is also Research Associate at the Center for International Studies (CERI), Sciences Po, France. Previously, he was postdoctoral research fellow at the Strategic Research Institute of the Military Academy (IRSEM), France, and Visiting Scholar at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies at George Washington University, USA. He received his PhD in Political Science and International Relations from Sciences Po. His current research focuses on US foreign and defence policy, US-China relations, transatlantic perspectives on China’s military modernization, the transformation of European armed forces, and the politics of international arms transfers. Recent and forthcoming publications: Trading with the Enemy: the Making of US Export Control Policy toward the People’s Republic of China (Oxford University Press, 2016); The Handbook of European Armed Forces, Oxford University Press, co-edited with Marco Wyss (forthcoming, 2016); Origins and Evolution of the US Rebalance toward Asia: Diplomatic, Military, and Economic Dimensions (ed.) (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015); “Balancing Conflicting Security Interests: US Defense Exports to China in the Last Decade of the Cold War,” Journal of Cold War Studies 17(1) 2015.

Endorsements for Trading with the Enemy:

“A fascinating sub-story of US-China relations. Despite all of the changes in the relationship, one constant over six-plus decades has been Washington's effort to restrict military-related technology transfers to China through its unilateral and multilateral export control regimes. Hugo Meijer's Trading with the Enemy offers a fine-grained historical accounting of this effort, which is of use to scholars and policymakers alike.”

David Shambaugh, George Washington University, and The Brookings Institution

“Based on new and unique primary source information, Hugo Meijer’s Trading with the Enemy tells the important and heretofore untold story of US policy toward China on the export of arms and military-related technology from the Korean War to the present. This excellent and eminently readable work significantly contributes to our understanding of the shifting security and economic dynamics at play between the United States and China at a time when these dynamics are critical to global stability and prosperity.”

Evan S. Medeiros, former U.S. National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs

“As geo-strategic and military competition grows between the US and China, the greatest rivalry will take place in the strategic and dual-use high technology domain. Even as they contest for influence and dominance in the South China Sea, outer space, and cyberspace, the overall race for global leadership will ultimately be decided in terms of technological innovation, industrial capacity, and economic sustainability. Hugo Meijer does a great service in shedding considerable light and providing analytical clarity in addressing this hugely complex issue. This is essential reading for anyone looking to understand the dynamics and long-term prospects for US-China strategic competition."

Tai Ming Cheung, University of California San Diego

This seminar series has been organised in association with the China Centre.