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
PodcastChina’s Role Within the War, with Jude Blanchette and Dave Shullman
What role will China choose to play within the Russia-Ukrainian war? Beijing has notably refused to condemn Moscow for its military aggression, instead putting the blame on th...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, David Shullman & Jude Blanchette
PodcastThe CCP Century: Jacob Stokes On The Upcoming 20th Chinese Communist Party Congress
Jacob Stokes joins the pod to discuss the upcoming 20th CCP Congress, which has not garnered a lot of attention outside of China, but will serve as a crucial inflection point ...
By Jacob Stokes
CommentaryWashington’s Missing China Strategy
The Biden administration has repeatedly identified China as the United States’ foremost foreign policy challenge. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has referred to China as th...
By Richard Fontaine
China and North Korea pose intertwined challenges for U.S. and allied policy. The Korean Peninsula constitutes just one area among many in U.S.-China relations. Meanwhile, iss...
By Jacob Stokes