Accession Number:



Seeking Feng Shui in US-China Rhetoric - Words Matter

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Technical Report

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Air War College, Air University Maxwell AFB United States

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Public debate about whether China is an aggressive state and the extent it is a direct threat to U.S. interests is pervasive in think-tanks, the media, and growingly within U.S. Defense leader comments. However, U.S. policy toward China is clear, Presidential intent is to cooperate in as many areas as possible. Additionally, both the Intelligence Communitys threat assessments and analysis of Chinas intention and military capabilities indicate Chinas rise is non-threatening. There is at times an apparent conflation in the understanding of U.S. capabilities planning and resourcing with policy formulation and execution that are inconsistent with the threats China poses. Senior leader rhetoric is misaligned with the U.S. assessment of Chinas threat and the actual threat posed by Chinas military, it is also inconsistent with the U.S. national strategy documents. Analysis of defense leader comments in 2015-2016 reveals that in general, defense leaders inconsistently elevate the threat posed by Chinas military and are not fully aligned with U.S. policy. Defense leaders should clearly differentiate between defense budget and planning risk Chinas military creates from the implementation of U.S. policy toward China and its military.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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