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Can history repeat itself? Contemporary lessons from the United States bashing Japan

LI Junjiu1

(1.School of Economics, Jilin University, Changchun, Jilin, China 130012)

【Abstract】Since August 2017, the Trump administration reopened the curtain of U.S. bashing China in economic and trade fields. The extant studies point out U.S. strategic considerations of bashing China; however, China still needs to draw lessons from the history of U.S. bashing Japan. The reason for U.S. bashing Japan is that U.S. was afraid of “power transfer” resulting from Japan’s economic rise. To effectively bash Japan, the U.S. “linked” its market advantage with Japanese competitive disadvantage via means such as carrying out tariff investigations, implementing monetary negotiation, agreeing on Structural Impediments Initiative, and initiating Section 301 and Super 301. Nowadays China shares a lot with Japan, but it is also different from Japan in some aspects. To avoid Japan’s strategic failure, China needs to respond strategically to U.S. bashing. First, it should keep its own strategic principles and uphold its own strategic baseline. Second, it should positively expand new space of economic and trade cooperation by means of the Belt and Road Initiative. Finally, it should continue to support funds and government policy for research and development activities, and meanwhile, firmly carry out national intellectual property strategy.

【Keywords】 trade disputes; power transfer; linkage strategy; monetary negotiation; national security;


【Funds】 General Project of National Social Science Fund of China (16BGJ036) Key Project of Philosophy and Social Science Research, Jilin University (2018ZDPY02)

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    [1]. ① The US members of the working group consist of officials from the Department of State, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Commerce, and the Council of Economic Advisers, and the Japanese members of the working group include officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Treasury, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, and the Economic Planning Agency. [^Back]

    [2]. ① In July 1992, Japan and the United States held another meeting to confirm the implementation effect of the agreement. The Japanese side indicated that it would further correct exclusive business practices and simplify government procurement procedures, and the US promised to reduce fiscal deficits. During the Clinton administration, the United States strengthened its offensive against Japan with the aim of expanding the shares of different varieties of goods in the Japanese market. In July 1993, the two parties signed an agreement called the United States-Japan Framework for a New Economic Partnership, calling for two meetings a year to jointly resolve structural and sectoral issues and reduce the US trade deficit with Japan. During the Bush administration, a bilateral framework mechanism called U.S.-Japan Economic Partnership for Growth was launched, and further efforts were made to improve the trade imbalance between the United States and Japan. See Zhu, Y. Japanese Studies (日本学刊), (3): 47–59, (2007). [^Back]

    [3]. ② In March 1987, the Reagan administration imposed a 100% punitive tariff on USD 300 million worth of chip products exported to the US by Japan for the dumping behavior of Japanese companies and the Japanese government’s failure to honor the US companies’ share of the Japanese chip market by more than 10%. In June 1991, the United States and Japan reached a new semiconductor trade agreement for a period of five years. The United States hoped that the share of foreign semiconductor products in the Japanese market would exceed 20% by the end of 1992. Japan regarded “20%” as the direction of efforts, while the United States required this as the “contract” of both parties. In July 1996, the Japan-U.S. Semiconductor Trade Agreement expired, and the two sides agreed to adopt a new approach; on the one hand, establishing a forum for the meeting of government officials—Government/Authorities Meeting on Semiconductors, and on the other hand forming a forum for the semiconductor industry—World Semiconductor Council. [^Back]

    [4]. ① According to foreign analysis, CFIUS was reluctant to release the transaction because of concerns that China has the ability to acquire Cree’s technology through Infineon. See Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. CFIUS in 2017: A Momentous Year. [2018-06-06]. https://www.wsgr.com/publications/PDF-Search/CFIUS-Report/2017/CFIUS-YIR-2017.pdf [^Back]


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This Article


CN: 22-1065/F

Vol 37, No. 04, Pages 1-14

July 2018


Article Outline


  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Why bashing Japan: the “power transfer” syndrome of the United States
  • 3 How to bash Japan: “linkage” strategy of the United States
  • 4 Differences and commonalities between China and Japan, and enlightenment
  • Footnote