Open Forum

The aim of this synopsis is to clarify the debate that has erupted in the early summer of 2019, to differentiate the main schools of thought, to put the debate in historical perspective, and to suggest some tests that lie ahead. On the one hand, any such debate at this juncture has to be a response to Donald Trump’s China policy. On the other, it has unfolded as something more: An exchange between the defenders of the general policy line taken toward China since at least the 1980s—the doves; the advocates of a harsher line—the hawks; the advocates of a harder line yet—the superhawks; and what I call the think tank consensus, which resembles the hawk position on the surface but has potential to find a degree of affinity to the posture of the doves. As in the debate over “Red China” (from “who lost China” to whether the US should establish relations with it) and the debate over the Soviet Union (whether détente should be pursued or the Cold War intensified), the current debate, now fully enjoined, promises to be long-lasting.

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