The hegemonic rivalry between the United States and China has generated tectonic geoeconomic shifts with massive implications for global trade. Global trade, inextricably linked with national prosperity, international politics and global governance, is increasingly driven less by economic realities and more by great power rivalry. Demonstrating both the dynamic nature of US-China trade tensions and the impact of and international political relations, are allegations of Chinese human rights violations being injected by the US as part of trade policy. Invoking human rights in the trade context has already caused multi-dimensional complexities impacting businesses; supply-chains; coalition building; and spurring counter measures. Linking human rights to trade policies might also lead to increasing economic nationalism, regionalism, protectionism, and further counter-measures. Significantly, given economic and trade realism, whether the current Western concern over human rights is sustainable longer-term is an open question. Accordingly, weaponizing human rights in trade relations constitutes an omnipresent risk not only to China, but also to the US since economic practicalities and trade pragmatism could potentially precipitate a more Chinacentric international trade governance. Regardless of the outcome, connecting trade to human rights will likely lead to a re-shaping of the existing trade architecture.