June 14, 2021

Getting real about US–China cooperation

By Jacob Stokes

One of the toughest questions in the current frosty era of relations between Washington and Beijing is whether and how to pursue cooperation amid ‘extremegeopolitical competition. Despite its importance, the practice of cooperation rarely receives the type of rigorous analysis necessary for devising effective strategy.

A close look reveals US legacy rationales for pursuing cooperation with China are not producing the desired results.

A close look reveals US legacy rationales for pursuing cooperation with China are not producing the desired results. But adopting a few principles can better integrate the competitive and cooperative elements of the relationship while making future attempts to coordinate with Beijing more effective and sustainable, even if the overall agenda will be much narrower in scope and ambition.

Cooperation is theoretically meant to serve two purposes in US–China relations.

First, to work together in areas where the two powers have nominally overlapping interests. These include global health, nuclear nonproliferation, counterterrorism, fighting climate change and international economic development.

Second, to provide stability for the relationship that can even out tensions stemming from areas where the two powers disagree. The thinking has been that working together on shared aims helps create a more constructive setting for dealing with disputes.

Read the full article from East Asia Forum.

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