Open Forum

While the US-China trade war has dominated geoeconomic discussions in 2019, great power rivalry is far from the only domain in which economic instruments are being used in the pursuit of political or strategic objectives. Barely a week seems to go by now without reporting of Chinese economic coercion—the threat or imposition of economic costs designed to influence others’ behavior.1 Consider two recent high-profile examples from mid-December 2019. The first case involved Mesut Özil, a player for the English football team Arsenal. After he criticized China for its treatment of Muslims, a Chinese state-run television network cancelled a scheduled broadcast of an Arsenal English Premier League match, and Özil himself was removed from the Chinese version of a popular video game.2 During that same week, China’s ambassador to Germany, Wu Ken, threatened “consequences” if Chinese company Huawei was excluded from participating in the construction of Germany’s 5G telecommunications network, raising the possibility that German-made cars would be excluded from the Chinese market on safety grounds.3

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