As China’s economy and its economic statecraft become more sophisticated, Beijing is sharpening and expanding its coercive economic toolkit. Its growing set of tools looks quite different from the wide array of U.S. tools. Washington relies on formal, published sanctions, trade controls, or investment restrictions. Instead, Beijing prefers approaches that do not legally link a foreign policy dispute to the coercive measures, creating public deniability and greater optionality for escalation and de-escalation. China typically imposes economic costs through informal measures such as selective implementation of domestic regulations, including stepped-up customs inspections or sanitary checks, and uses extralegal measures such as employing state media to encourage popular boycotts and having government officials directly put informal pressure on specific companies.
- To the greatest extent practical, the Trump administration should summarize its internal research into a published, annual, public report on China’s economic statecraft, including coercive measures.
- The Trump administration should initiate a formal information-sharing and coordination mechanism with close security partners to gather data on Chinese use of economic coercion and predatory investment or commercial activity.
- There are several ways the Trump administration could use trade policy to build resilience against Chinese economic coercion. By deepening trade ties between the United States and countries vulnerable to Chinese economic coercion, the United States can offer an important alternative market.
- The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Treasury Department should offer to work closely with countries that are negotiating free-trade agreements with China to discuss strategy and external support.