Date of Award

Spring 2020

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts


Political Science


Michael Gunter

Committee Member

Dan Chong

Committee Member

Yusheng Yao


This paper examines whether or not international trade can be depended on to prevent power transition wars, with a focus on the current transition between the US and China. The literature on power transitions and on trade’s impact on international wars is reviewed, and a method established for determining whether a neoliberal or neorealist understanding of the impact of trade is more appropriate in the current transition. This method employs a model for predicting states’ trade policies to see whether its predictions are accurate both before and after the rise of complex economic interdependence in the 1970s. If the same model can predict trade policies in both periods consistently, then this supports the neorealist position that complex economic interdependence has not fundamentally altered the way states interact with each other. If the model cannot, then the neoliberal position is supported – that complex economic interdependence has changed states behavior towards each other, instead. The conclusion reached is that a neorealist understanding of trade is more appropriate, and thus, trade cannot be depended on to prevent a power transition war between the US and China.

Rights Holder

Conor Sullivan