The Rise of Economic Illiberalism as Foreign Policy

"There are also theoretical reasons to suspect that doux commerce theory has limited application to totalitarian nations in the modern world. Since many companies are owned or heavily controlled by the government, a nation like China can strengthen its regime by directing the advantages of trade to favored groups. Moreover, rather than broadening rights to satisfy a rising middle class, it can create a propaganda campaign to unite its citizens on the basis of nationalism and use its greater resources to engage in even more foreign adventurism.

Thus, the Trump administration’s decisions to impose increased tariffs on China and impose export control on technology companies such as Huawei, reflect a rational recognition that geopolitical benefits of open trade with China have not been realized and that in fact have bolstered the power of a totalitarian regime."