Open Forum

North Korea had slipped into the background, US-Japan ties had lost some significance, and China loomed ever larger as the fall began in DC. Concern was raised that as trade and security tensions escalated, a wholesale evaluation would occur on both sides, leading to a cold war. What had been engagement laced with hedging was shifting to hedging verging on balancing. For various reasons related to a lack of trust in Trump and doubt that a sharply divided polity could replicate the forty years of bipartisan consensus on China, few had confidence in a policy review even if one could be launched. The prospect of returning to the status quo prior to 2017 appeared dim, leading to either some sort of deal to share power while competing or a path of separation despite the risks given the high level of bilateral interdependence. The latter choice is made more likely by Chinese overconfidence that the United States is in decline in Asia even if they have been surprised by a recent strategic resurgence and new economic vitality; by their zero-sum reasoning often masked by claims to the contrary; and by US unpreparedness to talk about sharing strategic power if they could find Chinese counterparts with pragmatic thinking.

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