Donald Trump's protectionism is certainly controversial but to at least some degree, all the Western states lead a similar politics towards the North Korea, Cuba or Russia. China, on the other hand, though being much criticized, is currently one of the biggest of their partners.

I understand embargoes are economically disadvantageous for both of the states but from the political point of view it is a common communication method. I also understand that most of the Western world isn't currently prepared for such embargo. But let's just take the hypothetical question: What would happen if all the Western states did impose embargo on China and adjusted to this situation?

I was thinking that the more open policy towards those states that are heading towards the way to democracy means a better contact with the people from those countries and could help democratization. Is this the reason Western states sacrifice the human rights in China and ecology? What are the important things that determined this, apart from the want for cheeper goods?

(Please don't take my considerations seriously, I'm just trying to explore the issue)

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    Stock markets and oil price will collapse, consumer price index will rise, world GDP growth will stop, many companies, especially those heavily dependent on China trade will go bankrupt, etc... – Rathony Nov 27 '16 at 14:37
  • Is this the reason Western states sacrifice the human rights in China and ecology? This seems to imply that Western countries have some moral right or duty of telling the rest of the world how to behave, have been consistent in enforcing it (hint: check the history of South America, of Spain and Portugal, of Egypt and the Gulf monarchies and Morocco, of South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand) and are only doing an exception in China. – SJuan76 Nov 27 '16 at 16:04
  • a full embargo would never happen. The west is too reliant on cheap Chinese made goods. Cost of labor would be too high for companies like Apple to bring jobs back to the US. In short, bankruptcy, recession and economic collapse. – Noah Nov 27 '16 at 16:14
  • I think it is a quite safe bet that whatever device you use right now to read this has at least half its parts made in China. – Philipp Nov 27 '16 at 23:00
  • @Philipp Yeah, what I'm asking is, wheter this economical advantage is the only reason the Western states don't adopt this policy. – Probably Nov 28 '16 at 15:16

Not sure what you mean by western do you only care about the EU and the US trades with China?

Anyway, this would apply to most of EU and US:

China would immediately retaliate and stop importation of any goods from the U.S./EU and U.S. businesses would lose access to a market with four times as many people as the U.S. The U.S. aircraft and automobile industries – our heavy manufacturing job generators – would take a severe hit.


Top 10 US Exports to China America's exports to China amounted to $124 billion or 7.6% of its overall exports.

 1. Oil seed: $15.3 billion  
 2. Aircraft, spacecraft: $13.9 billion 
 3. Vehicles: $13.2 billion
 4. Machines, engines, pumps: $12.5 billion  
 5. Electronic equipment: $12 billion  
 6. Medical, technical equipment: $7.5 billion  
 7. Plastics: $5.1 billion  
 8. Woodpulp: $3.4 billion 
 9. Copper: $2.9 billion 
 10. Wood: $2.7 billion

US Imports from China according to:



China was the United States' largest supplier of goods imports in 2015. U.S. goods imports from China totaled $482 billion in 2015, up 3.2% ($15 billion) from 2014, and up 98% from 2005. U.S. imports from are up 382% from 2000 (pre-WTO accession).

The top import categories (2-digit HS) in 2015 were: electrical machinery ($133 billion), machinery ($104 billion), furniture and bedding ($28 billion), toys and sports equipment ($24 billion), and footwear ($17 billion).

U.S. imports of agricultural products from China totaled $4.4 billion in 2015, our 3rd largest supplier of agricultural imports. Leading categories include: processed fruit & vegetables ($1.0 billion), fruit & vegetable juices ($321 million), snack foods ($208 million), fresh vegetables ($178 million), and spices ($159 million).

U.S. imports of services from China were an estimated $15.9 billion in 2015, 10.5% ($1.5 billion) more than 2014, and 132% greater than 2005 levels. It was up roughly 396% from 2001 (pre-WTO accession). Based on 2014, leading services imports from China to the U.S. were in the transportation, travel, and research and development sectors.

Trade Balance

The U.S. goods trade deficit with China was $366 billion in 2015, a 6.6% increase ($23 billion) over 2014.

The United States has a services trade surplus of an estimated $30 billion with China in 2015, up 5.2% from 2014.

Additionally, China would lose any restraint to its belligerence in the South China Sea, since the prospect of losing its U.S. trade relationship would mean that there was no longer any cost to pursuing its territorial aims. There would likely be action taken against close U.S. partners Japan and South Korea and tension in the Straits of Taiwan would be harrowing. U.S. pledges to protect those countries would get called in, and the trade war might snowball into a very violent real war.


During a sudden stop, the US interest rate would jump from 2.9 percent in 2014 to 5.5 percent in 2015,” write Timothy J. Kehoe, Kim J. Ruhl, and Joseph B. Steinberg,” authors of the report. “A sudden stop would cause a sharp contraction in construction output and employment, even more severe than during the collapse of the recent US boom.”

Worse, the negative consequences wouldn’t stop with construction. They would spread to the largest sector of the US economy, consumption, as household real incomes will fall. “U.S households would suffer a real income loss of $330 billion (1992 USD), 5.2 percent of 1992 U.S. GDP, compared with a scenario in which the saving glut had never occurred. That is, the total cost of disorderly sudden stop would be 16.1 percent of 1992 U.S GDP, or over $1 trillion ($689 billion plus $330 billion).”

That’s certainly bad news for the US economy. But it’s also bad news for China and our other lenders, as a big chunk of what American consumers buy comes from these countries. That’s why such a scenario seems unlikely.

In short, this would effect both countries' economy and would cause a big recession or complete collapse but China would be hit hardest as the US is there largest consumer of Chinese goods


One possible consequence is the rise of union power.

[W]heter this economical advantage is the only reason the Western states don't adopt this policy.

Following the Russellian tradition, I'll analyse feelings and desires that are politically important.

Based on my personal experience, Americans are very chivalrous, can be very generous to those they perceive as weak - some others say the root of this behaviour is a snobbish emotion; I tend to speculate that the US is not afraid of anything. There is no evidence to support that fear of loss has ever been a deterrent factor in US policy-making. Truth be told, American WWII generation harboured a feeling of affection towards the Chinese, and the generation immediately after WWII are China sympathisers; that explains why a pre-industrial China could gain a seat in UN permanent security council. The lack of hatred or malevolence is most evident in Truman, Marshal, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.

But things are changing. Anglo-Saxon influence has diminished to virtually nothing, together with their population. Descendants of immigrants from less civilized parts of the world have become the majority; these "oppressed" people are very bitter - their outlook can be anything but generous - and nothing characterizes their emotional state better than inferiority complex; some of them may achieve moderate material wealth, but they are pained by the thought that there are others who are doing better.

Assuming economic consequence is the only thing that concerns the US is mistaking kindness for weakness - it is dangerous because America today is not above anything. Never underestimate the Americans of the 21st century.

Last of all come the people whose malevolence overbalances their shrewdness, making them pursue the ruin of others in ways that lead to their own ruin. This last class embraces 90 per cent of the population of Europe. --Bertrand Russell. On the Value of Skepticism

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    How does this answer the question "What would happen if all the Western states imposed embargo on the products from China"? – Philipp Nov 28 '16 at 16:47

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