Killing Chickens, Scaring Monkeys: The Demonstration Effects of China’s Economic Coercion and their Limits

A common assertion is that Beijing undertakes deliberate, costly, and publicly visible efforts to punish actors that challenge or undermine its interests and policies with the intent of discouraging others from doing the same, to ‘kill chickens to scare monkeys’. Much of the scholarly and policy attention relating to this phenomenon focuses on the nature of PRC coercion. Less consideration is given to when, why and how much governments give in to PRC concerns preemptively when they see other states bearing costs imposed by Beijing for alleged infractions. This study seeks to develop an explanation for when and to what degree states engage in anticipatory accommodation — voluntary compliance with the expected preferences of a more powerful sanctioning state —when they observe the punishment of a third-party. We argue that states with recent experience of direct punishment from the sanctioning state learn to become more resistant to anticipatory accommodation, domestic lobbying for compliance notwithstanding.