Document Type



China’s practice of employing business sanctions to silence companies and individuals speaking out in favor of the Hong Kong protests has sparked concern among democracy and free speech advocates. This recent phenomenon, combined with Dwight Eisenhower’s rhetoric of “exporting democracy,” prompts the question: if the USA has engaged in policies aimed towards exporting democracy, could China also export autocracy? This paper uses panel data for 180 countries across 22 years (1996-2018) to examine the effect of a country’s trade with China as a proportion of its total trade on common indices of democratic freedom from the World Bank Group, Transparency International, and the Heritage Foundation. I find that the effects of trade with China are largely insignificant, and if significant are positive, indicating that fears of Chinese autocracy exporting may be somewhat unfounded. My results suggest that ideology exporting may truly be one-way: that is, that trade can make countries more democratic (at differing degrees, depending on starting conditions and the democracy of the trade partner) but not less, and that indices of democracy may be downward sticky.

Publication Date

July 2020

Journal Title

Proceedings of the Jepson Undergraduate Conference on International Economics






©2020 by Proceedings of the Jepson Undergraduate Conference on International Economics



File Format


Included in

Economics Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.