Paradox or Prudence? Analyzing the Coherence of the US' China Strategy
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIR AND SPACE STUDIES
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This paper is an analysis of the coherence of the engage but hedge strategy the US has employed towards China for nearly 25 years. Superficially, the approach appears to be paradoxical on one hand, the US has supported a broad range of economic and other engagement with China that has enabled China s rapid, sustained economic development. On the other hand, China s concurrent military modernization has led to regional and US concerns regarding how China intends to use its growing power. These concerns have led the US to adopt a hedging strategy towards China as exemplified by its long-standing arms embargo and the recently announced rebalancing of US military forces toward the Asia-Pacific region. Simply put, given the apparent paradox of these elements of the US approach, does the US strategic approach towards China make sense The thesis of this paper is that given the tremendous uncertainty regarding the ultimate nature of China s rise, the US engage but hedge strategy towards China is indeed prudent and coherent. Theoretical and scenario-based analyses illustrate how together, the two elements provide US policymakers with the spectrum of policy options required to mitigate the negative effects of what might otherwise be a very tumultuous period for the international community. Getting China strategy right is crucial because the US will face few challenges more consequential in the coming decades than those posed by China s resurgence.
- Government and Political Science