×

Mutual Assured Production

Why Trade Will Limit Conflict Between China and Japan

A Chinese protester holds a banner with the message of "Boycott Japanese goods," 2010 Jason Lee / Courtesy Reuters

During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union carefully avoided triggering a nuclear war because of the assumption of “mutual assured destruction”: each knew that any such conflict would mean the obliteration of both countries. Today, even though tensions between China and Japan are rising, an economic version of mutual deterrence is preserving the uneasy status quo between the two sides.

Last fall, as the countries escalated their quarrel over an island chain that Japan has controlled for more than a century, many Chinese citizens boycotted Japanese products and took to the streets in anti-Japanese riots. This commotion, at times encouraged by the Chinese government, led the Japanese government to fear that Beijing might exploit Japan’s reliance on China as an export market to squeeze Tokyo into making territorial concessions. Throughout the crisis, Japan has doubted that China would ever try to forcibly seize the islands—

Loading, please wait...

This article is a part of our premium archives.

To continue reading and get full access to our entire archive, please subscribe.

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.

Continue