In recent years, China's rise has been accompanied by increasingly belligerent use of its economic leverage to coerce states into avoiding or reversing political or military policies with which Beijing disagrees. Chinese actions have included government-backed popular boycotts, import restrictions, export restrictions, tourism restrictions, and threats of punishment against specific companies. These measures have been threatened or instituted against several U.S. treaty allies and partners in response to a wide range of perceived slights.
These campaigns have had mixed success to date for China, but the costs for U.S. allies and partners in some cases have been substantial, and China appears likely to continue to use this tactic going forward. Left unaddressed, such pressure campaigns may create a chilling effect on state decisionmaking and sovereignty, harming U.S. allies and partners and threatening the free and open international order.
The authors propose that the United States help establish a multilateral mechanism consisting of willing partners to respond collectively to Chinese economic pressure campaigns. They assess options for how this mechanism might be established, what sorts of actions this body or its members might take to push back against Chinese coercion, and the potential benefits and costs of these different approaches.