An­drew J. Nathan

The End of the Asian Cen­tury: War, Stag­na­tion, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dy­namic Re­gion by Michael R. Auslin Post-Western World: How Emerg­ing Pow­ers Are Re­mak­ing Global Or­der by Oliver Stuenkel Des­tined for War: Can Amer­ica and China Es­cape Thucy

The New York Review of Books - - Contents - An­drew J. Nathan

The End of the Asian Cen­tury:

War, Stag­na­tion, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dy­namic Re­gion by Michael R. Auslin.

Yale Univer­sity Press, 279 pp., $30.00

Post-Western World:

How Emerg­ing Pow­ers Are Re­mak­ing Global Or­der by Oliver Stuenkel.

Polity, 251 pp., $64.95; $22.95 (pa­per)

Des­tined for War:

Can Amer­ica and China Es­cape Thucy­dides’s Trap? by Gra­ham Al­li­son. Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, 364 pp., $28.00

Ten years ago the jour­nal­ist James Mann pub­lished a book called The China Fan­tasy, in which he crit­i­cized Amer­i­can pol­i­cy­mak­ers for us­ing some­thing he called “the Sooth­ing Sce­nario” to jus­tify the pol­icy of diplo­matic and eco­nomic en­gage­ment with China. Ac­cord­ing to this view, China’s ex­po­sure to the ben­e­fits of glob­al­iza­tion would lead the coun­try to em­brace demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions and support the Amer­i­can-led world or­der. In­stead, Mann pre­dicted, China would re­main an au­thor­i­tar­ian coun­try, and its suc­cess would en­cour­age other au­thor­i­tar­ian regimes to re­sist pres­sures to change.1

Mann’s pre­dic­tion turned out to be true. China took ad­van­tage of the grow­ing po­ten­tial of un­re­stricted global com­merce to emerge as the num­ber one trad­ing na­tion and the sec­ond-largest econ­omy in the world. It is the top trad­ing part­ner of ev­ery other coun­try in Asia, not least be­cause of its cru­cial po­si­tion as­sem­bling parts that have been pro­duced else­where in the re­gion. Sixty-four coun­tries have joined China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) in­fra­struc­ture ini­tia­tive, which was an­nounced in 2013 and con­sists of ports, rail­ways, roads, and air­fields link­ing China to South­east Asia, Cen­tral Asia, the Mid­dle East, and Europe— a “New Silk Road” that, if it suc­ceeds, will greatly ex­pand China’s eco­nomic and diplo­matic in­flu­ence. Twenty-nine heads of state at­tended Beijing’s OBOR con­fer­ence in mid-May.

Mean­while, China has re­mained an au­thor­i­tar­ian, one-party state that is backed by an in­creas­ingly pow­er­ful mil­i­tary. China’s mil­i­tary bud­get has risen at the same rate as its GDP for the past quar­ter-cen­tury, from $17 bil­lion in 1990 to $152 bil­lion in 2017—a 900 per­cent in­crease. This has al­lowed China to ac­quire air­craft car­ri­ers, so­phis­ti­cated mis­siles, ad­vanced sub­marines, and cy­ber­war ca­pa­bil­i­ties that chal­lenge Amer­i­can mil­i­tary dom­i­nance in Asia. It has vastly ex­panded its naval pres­ence in what it calls the “near seas” around its coast, and even into the Pa­cific and In­dian Oceans. China has at­tained this new po­si­tion of power while mostly com­ply­ing with the rules of the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion, which it joined in 2001. Still,

1James Mann, The China Fan­tasy: How Our Lead­ers Ex­plain Away Chi­nese Re­pres­sion (Vik­ing, 2007). in 2016 Western gov­ern­ments found it nec­es­sary to re­nege on a com­mit­ment they made when China joined to give it full “mar­ket econ­omy sta­tus” af­ter fif­teen years of mem­ber­ship. This sta­tus would have made it harder for other WTO mem­bers to sue China for “dump­ing”—sell­ing prod­ucts at less than mar­ket-price pro­duc­tion cost to drive out com­peti­tors—but the prom­ise to accord that sta­tus had been based on the ex­pec­ta­tion that China would turn into a Western-style mar­ket econ­omy. That has not hap­pened. In­stead, the state has con­tin­ued to con­trol the Chi­nese econ­omy in its ef­fort to ex­pand the mar­ket share of Chi­nese en­ter­prises both in China and abroad. Beijing has car­ried out in­dus­trial es­pi­onage to ac­quire ad­vanced Western tech­nol­ogy, forced the trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy from Western to Chi­nese en­ter­prises through joint ven­tures and merger agree­ments, and, for a time (al­though not now), sup­pressed the ex­change value of its cur­rency in or­der to stim­u­late ex­ports. Since 2006, Beijing has used var­i­ous forms of reg­u­la­tion that are not banned by the WTO to make it dif­fi­cult for for­eign busi­nesses to en­ter and com­pete in its do­mes­tic mar­ket, and to give an ad­van­tage to Chi­nese en­ter­prises—es­pe­cially in cut­ting-edge fields like semi­con­duc­tors, ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing, and in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy.

China’s in­creas­ingly per­va­sive eco­nomic in­flu­ence has con­trib­uted to the pop­ulist and antiglob­al­iza­tion move­ments that are now tak­ing hold in many coun­tries in the West, in­clud­ing in the US with Don­ald Trump. In a strik­ing re­ver­sal, it was Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping rather than a Euro­pean or Amer­i­can leader who de­liv­ered a strong de­fense of glob­al­iza­tion at the Jan­uary 2017 meet­ing of the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Davos.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama sought to strengthen US al­liances in Asia in the hope of keep­ing China’s rise in check. By con­trast, Pres­i­dent Trump has ques­tioned the value of al­liances with Ja­pan and South Korea, with­drawn from the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship, and for a time put a hold on Amer­i­can Free­dom of Nav­i­ga­tion Op­er­a­tions (FONOPS) in the South China Sea. At the Mar-aLago sum­mit in April, Trump em­bar­rass­ingly acted like Xi Jin­ping’s pupil on the ques­tion of North Korea’s grow­ing nu­clear men­ace, stat­ing, “Af­ter lis­ten­ing [to Xi] for ten min­utes, I re­al­ized it’s not so easy.” He then cast aside his cam­paign com­mit­ments to raise tar­iffs on China and chal­lenge China on cur­rency ma­nip­u­la­tion in what turned out to be the vain hope that China would solve the North Korea prob­lem for him. To the con­trary, the threat has only grown, with Py­ongyang’s suc­cess­ful July 4 test of a long-range mis­sile that may be ca­pa­ble of reach­ing Alaska. To make mat­ters worse, the Trump fam­ily have placed them­selves con­spic­u­ously on China’s pay­roll, ac­cept­ing fu­ture prof­its in the form of trade­marks for both the Trump and Ivanka brands, and seek­ing Chi­nese in­vest­ment in Kush­ner real es­tate projects. When China La­bor Watch, a New York–based la­bor rights or­ga­ni­za­tion, pub­lished in­for­ma­tion on poor con­di­tions in a fac­tory where Ivanka’s brand-name shoes had re­cently been pro­duced, China de­tained the group’s three field in­ves­ti­ga­tors, the only time CLW’s in­ves­ti­ga­tors have been de­tained for ex­pos­ing the abuse of Chi­nese work­ers.2

2John Ruwitch, “Ac­tivist Prob­ing Fac­to­ries Mak­ing Ivanka Trump Shoes in China Ar­rested: Group,” Reuters, May 31, 2017. These signs of con­fu­sion in Amer­i­can pol­icy have ac­cel­er­ated the growth of China’s eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence. In Asia, Philip­pine pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte soft­ened the pre­vi­ous Filipino ad­min­is­tra­tion’s po­si­tion on its South China Sea ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute with China and ac­cepted a large Chi­nese trade and in­vest­ment pack­age; Malaysian leader Na­jib Razak agreed to the first pur­chase of Chi­nese ves­sels for his navy; Korean vot­ers se­lected a new pres­i­dent, Moon Jae-in, who has promised closer re­la­tions with Beijing; and Viet­nam has stepped up diplo­matic and mil­i­tary re­la­tions with China. Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe has stuck to the Amer­i­can al­liance, but if US pol­icy con­tin­ues to show weak­ness, Ja­pan will ul­ti­mately face a choice ei­ther of com­pro­mis­ing with China’s ter­ri­to­rial claims in the East China Sea or of rearm­ing it­self more heav­ily, per­haps even with nu­clear weapons. Ac­cord­ing to Gra­ham Al­li­son, di­rec­tor of Har­vard Kennedy School’s Belfer Cen­ter for Sci­ence and In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs, in his new book Des­tined for War, “As far ahead as the eye can see, the defin­ing ques­tion about global or­der is whether China and the US can es­cape Thucy­dides’s Trap,” which he de­fines as a likely war be­tween a dom­i­nant power and a ris­ing power.

Two other re­cent books, how­ever, while ap­proach­ing the sub­ject in very dif­fer­ent ways, sug­gest that China is not as threat­en­ing as many com­men­ta­tors would have us be­lieve. Michael Auslin, a re­search fel­low at the con­ser­va­tive Hoover In­sti­tute, de­clares the end of the Asian Cen­tury be­fore it has much be­gun, be­cause lead­ing Asian coun­tries, in­clud­ing China, have not adopted the busi­ness-friendly eco­nomic prac­tices, pro-democ­racy po­lit­i­cal re­forms, and co­op­er­a­tive re­gional in­sti­tu­tions that would en­able them ef­fec­tively to ri­val the West. Oliver Stuenkel, a Brazil­ian aca­demic more on the left, ar­gues in­stead that the emer­gence of China and other Asian pow­ers is an ac­com­plished fact that can­not be re­versed, but that the power shift does not present a se­ri­ous threat to Western in­ter­ests. Al­though both books dis­cuss all of Asia, China is cen­tral to their ar­gu­ments. Auslin’s anal­y­sis is grounded in the con­tested set of ideas that used to be called the Wash­ing­ton Con­sen­sus— the be­lief that free mar­kets, free trade, and po­lit­i­cal democ­racy are nec­es­sary for economies to grow and po­lit­i­cal sys­tems to be sta­ble. Since the Chi­nese ap­proach dis­re­gards this the­ory, Auslin thinks the coun­try will stum­ble be­fore it se­ri­ously chal­lenges Amer­i­can pre­em­i­nence. He sees many prob­lems in the Chi­nese econ­omy, in­clud­ing the ex­ces­sive num­ber and size of state-owned en­ter­prises, opaque cor­po­rate gov­er­nance, huge govern­ment debt (200 per­cent of GDP by some es­ti­mates), a prop­erty bub­ble, and overde­pen­dence on ex­ports. But this adds up sim­ply to a de­scrip­tion of how the econ­omy is run, not to an ar­gu­ment that this way of run­ning it will not work.

In fact, the Chi­nese econ­omy is not as vul­ner­a­ble as Auslin thinks. First,

be­cause the Chi­nese cur­rency, the yuan, is not freely con­vert­ible, it is dif­fi­cult for yuan hold­ers to in­vest on a large scale any­where but China with­out govern­ment per­mis­sion. To be sure, there is a drib­ble of cap­i­tal abroad suf­fi­cient to al­low the pur­chase of high-end real es­tate in Van­cou­ver, Los An­ge­les, and New York, but this is hardly enough to starve in­vest­ment in China or sub­ject the yuan to cur­rency spec­u­la­tion. Sec­ond, just as the US dol­lar en­joys the “ex­or­bi­tant priv­i­lege” of be­ing ac­cepted ev­ery­where as a bearer of value even though it is not backed by any tan­gi­ble as­set, so too the Chi­nese yuan is ac­cepted by par­tic­i­pants in the Chi­nese econ­omy and even to a lim­ited ex­tent over­seas as a bearer of value, which gives the govern­ment the abil­ity to print money at will in or­der to stim­u­late eco­nomic growth, with lim­ited risk of in­fla­tion.

Third, both the debtors and the cred­i­tors in the Chi­nese econ­omy are mostly govern­ment en­ti­ties, so the govern­ment can ad­just their debt re­la­tion­ships with­out caus­ing a fi­nan­cial cri­sis. Beijing worked its way out of pre­vi­ous debt over­hangs by cre­at­ing “as­set man­age­ment com­pa­nies” (or “bad banks”) to take bad loans off the books of state banks, and it worked. Such tac­tics can be used again if nec­es­sary.

Auslin is more per­sua­sive in sug­gest­ing the ex­tent to which high-level cor­rup­tion has dam­aged the le­git­i­macy of China’s one-party rule, and how in­ef­fec­tive the regime’s heavy-handed pro­pa­ganda is in its aim of re­in­forc­ing that le­git­i­macy. Even so, sur­veys show that the Chi­nese pub­lic gives the regime credit for sus­tained eco­nomic growth and for car­ry­ing out a se­ri­ous bat­tle against cor­rup­tion. Auslin agrees with an un­named China spe­cial­ist—ap­par­ently the well-re­spected Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity scholar David Sham­baugh—that the Chi­nese regime has en­tered its “endgame.”3 This may be true, but the same pre­dic­tion has been made so of­ten for decades that it is hard to be con­vinced by it now. By see­ing the Chi­nese regime and other Asian po­lit­i­cal sys­tems like Thai­land, Myan­mar, and Malaysia that haven’t de­vel­oped Western-style gov­ern­ments as ex­am­ples of “un­fin­ished rev­o­lu­tions,” Auslin com­mits the fal­lacy of con­flat­ing po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity with de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion.


Auslin, Stuenkel does not be­lieve that Chi­nese power will fade, but he sees China’s am­bi­tions as more eco­nomic than mil­i­tary. It is true that China has built and for­ti­fied sand is­lands in the South China Sea, in­creased its al­lo­ca­tion of troops to UN peace­keep­ing op­er­a­tions in Africa, es­tab­lished a small naval base in Dji­bouti, used Chi­nese naval forces to evac­u­ate some 36,000 Chi­nese work­ers from Libya, and dis­patched ships to par­tic­i­pate in the mul­ti­lat­eral anti-piracy pa­trol in the Gulf of Aden.

But in Stuenkel’s view, these ef­forts are not likely to lead to the cre­ation of a US-style global mil­i­tary em­pire. It would be dif­fi­cult for China to de­fend its far-flung, frag­ile net­work of eco­nomic in­ter­ests by chiefly mil­i­tary power. China’s enor­mous in­vest­ments in re­sources and in­fra­struc­ture abroad can pay off only if peace is main­tained across these tur­bu­lent re­gions by po­lit­i­cal means, in­clud­ing re­spect for in­ter­na­tional law. Ac­cord­ing to Stuenkel, China wants noth­ing more than to pre­serve the main el­e­ments of the world trad­ing or­der from which it has ben­e­fited so much, while gain­ing greater in­flu­ence in the in­sti­tu­tions that en­force and de­velop this or­der.

Be­cause the US Congress re­fused un­til re­cently to au­tho­rize in­creased vot­ing rights for China in the World Bank and the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund—and, one might add, be­cause China ac­cu­mu­lated a huge stock of for­eign ex­change that it needed to in­vest— Beijing set out to cre­ate what Stuenkel calls a “par­al­lel or­der” of in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic in­sti­tu­tions. He iden­ti­fies twenty-two newly cre­ated mul­ti­lat­eral in­sti­tu­tions, rang­ing from the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank to the Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion to the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pa­cific, in which China is a par­tic­i­pant and usu­ally the lead­ing mem­ber. Stuenkel ar­gues these are “par­al­lel” rather than “al­ter­na­tive” in­sti­tu­tions: they pro­vide in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment, reg­u­late trade, fa­cil­i­tate in­ter­na­tional pay­ments, and carry out se­cu­rity and diplo­matic di­a­logues in much the same way as sim­i­lar Western-dom­i­nated in­sti­tu­tions that they par­al­lel. They op­er­ate ac­cord­ing to rules that are con­sis­tent with ex­ist­ing in­sti­tu­tions in the same fields, and their par­tic­i­pants con­tinue si­mul­ta­ne­ously as mem­bers of the older in­sti­tu­tions. In Stuenkel’s view, their cre­ation is a good thing:

[They] will pro­vide ad­di­tional plat­forms for co­op­er­a­tion (among both non-Western and be­tween non-Western and Western pow­ers), and spread the bur­den of con­tribut­ing global pub­lic goods [such as UN peace­keep­ing op­er­a­tions, anti-piracy pa­trols, and the con­trol of cli­mate change] more evenly . . . . All these in­sti­tu­tions will deepen China’s in­te­gra­tion into the global econ­omy, pos­si­bly re­duc­ing the risk of con­flict, and lift­ing all boats.

Auslin and Stuenkel both present, to use James Mann’s phrase, “sooth­ing sce­nar­ios”: ei­ther China’s rise will stall be­fore it poses a se­ri­ous threat to Amer­i­can in­ter­ests, or it will bring new vi­tal­ity to the ex­ist­ing in­ter­na­tional or­der. But both are too op­ti­mistic. Al­though China’s rate of growth has slowed from dou­ble dig­its to an of­fi­cial an­nual rate (which some economists think is ex­ag­ger­ated) of 6.7 per­cent in 2016, and will slow fur­ther as the econ­omy ma­tures, few be­lieve it will fall be­low 3 per­cent in the fore­see­able fu­ture.

As Stuenkel points out, at that rate it will inevitably over­take the US econ­omy, even if the US were to ac­cel­er­ate its own rate of growth, sim­ply be­cause China’s pop­u­la­tion is four times as big as Amer­ica’s. In a few more decades, China’s econ­omy will be twice as big as that of the US. An eco­nomic or po­lit­i­cal cri­sis, if it oc­curs, can slow China’s rise, but China is not go­ing back to the poverty of the pre-re­form era.

Stuenkel is per­sua­sive in ar­gu­ing that Beijing cares chiefly about po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity at home and eco­nomic ac­cess abroad, and not about pro­mot­ing its au­thor­i­tar­ian po­lit­i­cal model to the rest of the world. Nor do China’s lead­ers seek, as some have sug­gested, to ex­pel the United States from Asia, or to “rule the world.” They are, how­ever, pur­su­ing two goals that clash fun­da­men­tally with im­por­tant Amer­i­can in­ter­ests (leav­ing aside China’s abuse of the US–China eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship, which is a prob­lem that can be grad­u­ally re­solved through ne­go­ti­a­tions). The first is its ef­fort to al­ter the mil­i­tary bal­ance in Asia. Along its long, ex­posed coast­line, China is con­fronted with a string of Amer­i­can al­lies and part­ners: South Korea, Ja­pan, Tai­wan, the Philip­pines, Sin­ga­pore, and Viet­nam. There are some 60,000 Amer­i­can troops de­ployed in the area, and Amer­i­can bases in Guam and Pearl Har­bor com­mand the Pa­cific. Just be­yond the line twelve nau­ti­cal miles from the Chi­nese coast that de­fines its sov­er­eign “ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters,” the US Sev­enth Fleet con­ducts reg­u­lar in­tel­li­gence-gath­er­ing and sur­veil­lance op­er­a­tions. Along its land borders China like­wise con­fronts Amer­i­can de­ploy­ments, al­liances, and mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion ar­range­ments—in Afghanistan, Pak­istan, Cen­tral Asia, Mon­go­lia, and In­dia.

With China’s power ris­ing, its rulers no longer ac­cept be­ing so tightly hemmed in. They are now in a po­si­tion to press South Korea to re­verse the de­ploy­ment of an Amer­i­can Ter­mi­nal High Alti­tude Area De­fense (THAAD) mis­sile sys­tem; to move Chi­nese mil­i­tary ships and sub­marines through strate­gic straits be­tween the Ja­panese is­lands; to chal­lenge the Ja­panese claim to the Senkakus, the dis­puted is­lands in the East China Sea; to pres­sure Tai­wan to ac­cept uni­fi­ca­tion with China; and to ha­rass US ships and planes in the South China Sea. These moves chal­lenge the es­tab­lished Amer­i­can po­si­tion in Asia. The sec­ond se­ri­ous clash of in­ter­ests has to do with the free­doms of thought and speech. The regime is hy­per­sen­si­tive about its im­age be­cause of its shal­low le­git­i­macy at home. This has led it not only to en­gage in stan­dard pub­lic re­la­tions and me­dia work around the world, but also to use diplo­matic pres­sure, visa de­nials, fi­nan­cial in­flu­ence, sur­veil­lance, and threats to try to con­trol what jour­nal­ists, schol­ars, and Chi­nese stu­dents and schol­ars abroad say about China. The ef­fort to si­lence crit­ics ex­tends to hu­man rights in­sti­tu­tions like the United Na­tions Hu­man Rights Coun­cil in Geneva, where China works to as­sure that it and other au­thor­i­tar­ian regimes are not crit­i­cized; it even reaches Hol­ly­wood, where stu­dios ea­ger to gain ac­cess to the Chi­nese mar­ket in­creas­ingly avoid un­fa­vor­able por­tray­als of China. This of­fen­sive poses a spe­cial chal­lenge to the West, one in which the usual cliché about bal­anc­ing val­ues and in­ter­ests in for­eign pol­icy does not ap­ply. As China ex­tends its ef­forts at thought con­trol be­yond its own borders, our val­ues are our in­ter­ests.

Some have sug­gested that the US scale back its po­si­tion in Asia to ac­com­mo­date China’s de­sire for greater mil­i­tary in­flu­ence in its own re­gion. In his 2011 book On China, Henry Kissinger pro­posed that the two sides agree on a “Pa­cific Com­mu­nity”— “a re­gion to which the United States, China, and other states all be­long and in whose peace­ful devel­op­ment all par­tic­i­pate.” Gra­ham Al­li­son’s ideas for how to avoid war are equally an­o­dyne: “Un­der­stand what China is try­ing to do,” “Do strat­egy,” and “Make do­mes­tic chal­lenges cen­tral.”

Other strate­gists have been more spe­cific, propos­ing that the US and China es­tab­lish a mu­tu­ally ac­cept­able se­cu­rity bal­ance by mak­ing con­ces­sions to each other over Tai­wan, the Senkakus, mil­i­tary de­ploy­ments, and of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive mis­sile sys­tems. Through such an ap­proach, Wash­ing­ton and Beijing could demon­strate that each does not seek to threaten the other’s core se­cu­rity in­ter­ests.4

The dif­fi­culty with such pro­pos­als is that Beijing is likely to in­ter­pret them as ask­ing it to ac­cept an in­tru­sive Amer­i­can pres­ence just when the shift­ing power bal­ance should al­low that sit­u­a­tion to be cor­rected. And on the US side, yield­ing pre­emp­tively to Chi­nese am­bi­tions would de­stroy its cred­i­bil­ity with all of its al­lies, not only in Asia but else­where as well. The re­sult­ing desta­bi­liza­tion would not serve Amer­i­can or Chi­nese in­ter­ests.

Auslin’s rec­om­men­da­tions for man­ag­ing the rise of China are for the US to strengthen its mil­i­tary pres­ence in the re­gion; build ad­di­tional links— such as with In­dia and In­done­sia—on top of its ex­ist­ing al­liance sys­tem; and in­ten­sify Amer­i­can pres­sures for demo­cratic trans­for­ma­tion. It should stick to these poli­cies, he says, un­til “China’s lead­ers...come to ap­pre­ci­ate the ben­e­fits of con­struc­tive en­gage­ment.” This is a grand vi­sion that faces three ob­sta­cles—the lack of con­sis­tency across ad­min­is­tra­tions in Wash­ing­ton needed to im­ple­ment such a strat­egy; the un­will­ing­ness of coun­tries like In­dia, In­done­sia, and even our for­mal al­lies South Korea and Ja­pan to tilt so con­spic­u­ously against the largest and still-grow­ing re­gional power; and the un­like­li­hood that China would come to ac­cept this Amer­i­can pos­ture as ben­e­fi­cial.

For his part, Stuenkel rec­om­mends that the United States en­large the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the ris­ing pow­ers in ex­ist­ing in­sti­tu­tions so they have a fair share of in­flu­ence, en­cour­age China and other ris­ing pow­ers to con­trib­ute even more to global pub­lic goods


For ex­am­ple, James Steinberg and Michael E. O’Han­lon, Strate­gic Re­as­sur­ance and Re­solve: US–China Re­la­tions in the Twenty-First Cen­tury (Prince­ton Univer­sity Press, 2014), and Lyle J. Gold­stein, Meet­ing China Half­way: How to Defuse the Emerg­ing US– China Ri­valry (Ge­orge­town Univer­sity Press, 2015).

such as UN peace­keep­ing op­er­a­tions, anti-piracy pa­trols, and the con­trol of cli­mate change, and “fully em­brace, rather than crit­i­cize or try to iso­late” the new par­al­lel eco­nomic in­sti­tu­tions that China is cre­at­ing. These are con­struc­tive ideas, but they do not ad­dress the core prob­lems of re­gional se­cu­rity and hu­man rights. The US should co­op­er­ate with China in those areas where com­mon in­ter­ests ex­ist, such as non­pro­lif­er­a­tion and cli­mate change (the po­si­tion of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion notwith­stand­ing). And the US must push steadily to open the Chi­nese econ­omy on a re­cip­ro­cal ba­sis—an ef­fort that would have been greatly aided by stay­ing in the TPP. But in or­der to re­spond suc­cess­fully to China’s grow­ing mil­i­tary power, the US must hold the line firmly where strate­gic in­ter­ests clash, such as over Tai­wan and the US naval pres­ence in the South China Sea. Above all, the US must de­fend in­ter­na­tional stan­dards of hu­man rights and free­doms more strongly than it has in re­cent years; it makes no sense to de­fer to the loudly voiced sen­si­tiv­i­ties of the Chi­nese regime even as China in­ter­feres more and more of­ten in our free­doms. Com­pe­ti­tion, fric­tion, and test­ing be­tween the United States and China are un­avoid­able, prob­a­bly for decades. To nav­i­gate this process, the US needs an ac­cu­rate as­sess­ment of China’s in­ter­ests, but even more of its own.

Don­ald Trump

Xi Jin­ping

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