Is Trading with China Different? Self-interest, National Pride, and Trade Preferences

  • VOL. 21 NO. 1
  • pp. pp.97-115

Wei-Ting Yen
Kristine Kay
Fang-Yu Chen

  • Keywords

    trade preference, national pride, nationalism, survey experiment, Taiwan, China

  • Abstract

    Despite increasing economic integrations with China, worries exist in China’s neighboring countries about China’s implicit political intention. Do people view trading with China differently? In this article, we incorporate the political context of trade agreements by showing that trade with partners who come with political costs is less likely to be supported. Using a nationally representative survey experiment from Taiwan, we find that trading with China garners less support than trading with Japan or Malaysia, and nationalism suppresses self-interest when the proposed trading partner is China. We show that national attachment, which is neither a proxy for political identification nor a proxy for national chauvinism, becomes a stronger predictor of trade preferences toward China. While the political tension between China and Taiwan is unique, many countries see at least one other country posing a negative externality. Our finding suggests strongly identified nationalists would oppose engaging with a hostile outsider regardless of their self-interest.

  • Author(s) Bio

    Wei-Ting Yen ( is Assistant Professor of Government Department at Franklin and Marshall College. She holds a PhD from political science at The Ohio State University. Yen’s research interest lies in the political economy issues and social policy development in the developing world, with the region of focus on Asia. Her dissertation received the Honorable Mention for the John Heinz Dissertation Award from the National Academy of Social Insurance.

    Kristine Kay is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, affiliated with the Institute of Governmental Studies. She studies American politics with a focus on public opinion, political psychology, and group politics. Methodologically, she is primarily interested in survey and experimental design, and in causal inference. Her work has appeared in Politics, Groups and Identities and The Journal of Politics.

    Fang-Yu Chen holds a PhD from Political Science from Michigan State University. His research interests are on authoritarian politics, party politics, and political behavior in new democracies. He is the co-founder/editor and of the website “Who Governs TW,” which aims to become a Mandarin version of the Monkey Cage, promoting public awareness and participation in politics. Also, he is in the editorial team of “US Taiwan Watch,” which analyzes issues related to US?Taiwan?China relations.