Tanja Schweinberger is a PhD-student from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. Her PhD examines cooperation and conflict in U.S.-Chinese trading relations and her recent manuscript “Mercantilism 2.0: Mass public opinions towards trade balances” received the 2021 Best Graduate Paper Award of the International Political Economy of the International Studies Association. She holds a MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom, and a BA in Political Science from the University of Konstanz, Germany. The recent ruptures in U.S.-Chinese trade policy jeopardize bilateral trade cooperation. Bilateral trade relations have reached an unprecedented level of salience as economic exchange with the other great power has become vilified. However, the current academic consensus severely trails behind the international political reality. Modern International Political Economy (IPE) predominantly explains the bilateral trade conflict with economic “China shocks”, i.e. individual material trade repercussions.
Tanja addresses this lack of international political explanations, even though seminal in International Relations (IR) and older IPE accounts, in her PhD project. In her dissertation, which the “Mercantilism 2.0” manuscript is part of, she examines the consequences of international politics for U.S.-Chinese trade cooperation. Her work seeks to reconnect perspectives of IR to IPE. With automated text analysis of news media articles and representative original survey experiments in both the U.S. and China, Tanja's PhD project systematically discovers that the relative shift in power fundamentally threatens bilateral trade cooperation. In the context of this structural power transition, mercantilist trade balance notions instigate confrontational trade cooperation attitudes amongst members of the mass public from both countries towards each other. Tanja's research implies that international power considerations threatening bilateral cooperation are likely to intensify as the ongoing power transition between the U.S. and China gains further pace.