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America, China and the art of confrontation
December 17, 2018 | Financial Times | Gideon Rachman.

Tell me how this ends? was the despairing question attributed to American generals as they contemplated the quagmires in Vietnam and Iraq. The same question needs to be asked by US policymakers now, as they consider the escalating tensions between America and China.

The world’s two most powerful countries are locked into confrontations on a range of issues, including trade, technology, espionage and control of the South China Sea. Broadly speaking, there are two ways of interpreting these clashes. The first is that Donald Trump’s administration is determined to reset the US-China relationship. The second is that the US has now embarked on an effort to block China’s rise.

The first approach focuses on objectionable Chinese behaviour; the second objects to the very idea of China as a rival superpower.

These two ways of thinking point to very different potential endings. The first approach — the reset — ultimately ends with a deal. The second approach — blocking the rise of China — points to a prolonged and deepening antagonism......but, over the long term, both Washington and Beijing must think more profoundly about “how this ends”.

The Chinese need to recognise that there has been a profound and bipartisan shift in American thinking. So trying to hoodwink Mr Trump or wait him out will ultimately not work. Instead, China has to consider much more significant changes in its policies on everything from forced technology transfer, to the South China Sea. It could be its last chance to head off a long-term confrontation with the Americans.

The US also has some thinking to do. The hawks in Washington are relishing the more overt use of US power in their confrontation with China. But they too need to think about “how this ends”.

It is not realistic to think that the US can ultimately stop China’s rise.
China  China_rising  conflicts  endgame  Huawei  rivalries  security_&_intelligence  superpowers  Thucydides_Trap  rising_powers  grand_strategy  strategic_thinking  U.S.foreign_policy  post-Cold_War  Donald_Trump  confrontations  U.S.-China_relations 
december 2018 by jerryking
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