Sammanfattning: This study examines why a trade dispute between the United States (US) and China has developed after the US decision to impose steel and aluminum tariffs in March 2018. The study was conducted from a realistic point of view with the purpose to put the trade dispute in a broader context of the realistic theories. The study concludes that the theory of economic nationalism and protectionism, by its own, can explain why the trade dispute has occurred but the realistic perspective offers a deeper and broader understanding to the dispute. Starting with the extraordinary development of China since the 1980s, the study, by using the realistic theory of Thucydides trap, shows a China that hungers for more respect, more influence over others and who sees itself as more important in the world of politics. The US, put in the same theory, is challenged by China and fears this development as they are questioned as a sovereign global super power, a throne they have had since the fall of the Soviet Union. This fear makes them determined to defend status quo. In the light of this perspective the trade dispute can be explained as a tool used by the US to brake or slow down China´s progress towards an economic superpower.
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