Danish Defence Research Database


Handelskrig: Danmarks muligheder i en intensiveret stormagtsrivalisering

Student thesis: Diploma Thesis

  • Christian Bendixen Sommerdahl
Afgangsprojekt, (Diploma)
This paper sets out to investigate the possibilities for Danish foreign policy during the ongoing trade war between the superpowers United States and China. Neorealism is used as the main theory in order to reduce options as well as complexity by providing an analytical tool of cause and effect. The adaptations model is introduced to further narrow the possibilities into four main categories, Dominate, Balance, Adapt and Passive, determined by the country’s ability to influence its external environment as well as its ability to withstand external pressure. These determining factors lie the foundation for this paper’s definition of power “A state’s ability to influence, while not being influenced by, one or more states”. The capabilities constituting power in this paper is believed to be military capabilities supported by economic and technological capabilities. Furthermore, this paper considers the increasingly interconnected world with interdependence, even between superpowers, by introducing the exchange of capabilities as the Relational Power one state holds over another.Analysis suggests that Chinese prosperity has allowed it to expand its military and technological capabilities to a point where global American superiority is no longer assured, deeming China a superpower. The trade war seems to be a natural neorealistic consequence of the shift in the balance of power. The US utilizes its relational power, the access to American consumers and technology, to dampen the Chinese expansion. This is done through barriers of trade such as tariffs, banning Chinese suppliers from critical infrastructure, and restricting Chinese investments in American tech companies. In relation, the United States has launched a plan for increased presence in the Indo-Pacific. The united states call upon its allies to rally against China’s expansion. China on the other hand is determined on continuing its growth to become a leading force within ten technologies by 2025 as a part of the “Made in China” plan, through internal R&D as well as technological appropriation from current market leaders.This constitutes a problem for Denmark that is caught between a want for economic prosperity and the need for security. In the short run, China presents massive business opportunities, while the US offers increased defense expenditure and hard rhetoric from President Trump. However, in the long run Denmark risks technological appropriation followed by protectionist measures from China completely eroding Danish comparative advantages internationally. The United States on the other hand is interested in NATO allies in the Baltic Sea and the Baltic States. Therefore, they have incentives to not sacrifice Denmark, presenting a more stable future for the Danish national security. This paper suggests backing the United States in its effort to contain China by increasing the presence in the Baltic states freeing United States military capabilities to the Indo-Pacific as well as taking measures to prevent Chinese technological appropriation. 
Publication date10 Oct 2019
Number of pages39
Publishing institutionHærens Officersskole
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