November 07, 2014

A Response to Lyle Goldstein's “How China Sees America's Moves in Asia”

By Ely Ratner

In “How China Sees America's Moves in Asia,” Professor Lyle Goldstein highlights the disturbing conclusion of a recent essay by three Chinese analysts: China is under siege, pinned down by a U.S. strategy of “containment” that aims to encircle their country and undermine its security interests.

Professor Goldstein is right to point out that concerns about U.S. "containment" are pervasive in Chinese foreign policy and national-security assessments, and that this is a fear the United States cannot ignore as it strengthens its focus on Asia. Professor Goldstein's article is also an important reminder that to be successful, a strategy of deterrence requires a corresponding message of assurance. Security-studies scholars and military strategists have long recognized that deterrence and assurance are two sides of the same coin, and that some level of assurance is required to encourage a potential adversary to exercise restraint.

Yet we disagree in important ways with three aspects of Professor Goldstein's argument. First, his assessment gives far too much weight to a single assessment published in a relatively minor Chinese journal, one that appears to go well beyond more mainstream discussions among PLA and foreign-policy specialists about the challenges associated with what many in China view as U.S. “containment.”

Read the full article at The Rand Blog.