Amid all the uncertainty about the world that will follow the pandemic, one thing is almost sure to be true: tensions between the United States and China will be even sharper than they were before the coronavirus outbreak. The resurgence of U.S.-Chinese competition poses a host of challenges for policymakers—related to trade and economics, technology, global influence, and more—but none is more consequential than reducing the risk of war. Unfortunately, thanks to today’s uniquely dangerous mix of growing Chinese assertiveness and military strength and eroding U.S. deterrence, that risk is higher than it has been for decades, and it is growing.
Neither Washington nor Beijing seeks a military conflict with the other. Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump both undoubtedly understand that a war would be disastrous. Yet the United States and China could all too easily stumble into conflict, sparked by a Chinese miscalculation of the United States’ willingness or capability to respond to provocations in disputed areas such as the South China Sea or to outright aggression against Taiwan or another U.S. security partner in the region.
Read the full article in Foreign Affairs.
More from CNAS
CommentaryStemming the Flow: The United States Needs a Strategy to Address China’s Strategic Exportation of Digital Authoritarianism
Many of China’s technology companies perfect their products in the domestic market by facilitating the party-state’s oppression and data control, and subsequently seek to expo...
By Joshua Fitt
VideoUnderstanding China’s Military-Civil Fusion strategy
Elsa Kania discusses myths she has seen about China’s Military-Civil Fusion strategy and the actual scope of MCF in China....
By Elsa B. Kania
PodcastTop Trump administration official's advice to India on China, Quad
Lisa Curtis was interviewed for the In Focus Podcast with The Hindu's Diplomatic Affairs Editor Suhasini Haidar. Listen to the full interview from The Hindu....
By Lisa Curtis
CommentaryThe U.S.’s China Strategy Needs New Tools
Policymakers maintain an unparalleled capacity to push back using sanctions, export controls and investment restrictions. Trade, however, presents a unique dilemma....
By Jordan Schneider & David Talbot