NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

A New Road Map for U.S.-Chinese Relations

March 13, 2013

U.S.-Chinese relations have recently received a boost in the form of a new Asian foreign policy by the Obama administration.  Washington has renewed its focus on the strategic and economic significance of Asia, and in particular China, calling for a policy of "pivot" or "rebalance," says Kevin Rudd in Foreign Affairs.

The United States is the largest world economy and China has risen in the past 30 years to the second largest economy in the world.  A greater focus will be placed on regional prosperity, more direct meetings by top officials of both China and the United States, and the ability to quickly resolve East China and South China seas territorial issues. The newly appointed general secretary and president of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping, has a strong military and reform background that makes him a potentially long-term  partner for the United States if all diplomatic options are properly used.

Chinese Priorities/Options:

  • Policies that continue ensuring China's energy security.
  • Preserving global and regional stability so as not to derail the economic growth agenda.
  • Modernizing China's military and more robustly asserting China's foreign policy interests.
  • Enhancing China's status as a great power.

U.S. Priorities/Options:

  • To accelerate the level of strategic competition with China and demonstrate that China cannot outspend or outmaneuver the United States and its allies.
  • To maintain the status quo as the rebalancing takes effect and concentrate on issue and crisis management.
  • A new framework of cooperation that recognizes strategic competition, defines key areas of shared interest to work on and to narrow the trust gap between the two nations.

Both U.S. and Chinese Priorities/Options:

  • Use the East Asia Summit and the Association of Southeast Asian Nation's Defense Ministers' Meeting forum to develop a series of confidence and security building measures.
  • Upgrade the regular military to military dialogues with participation from higher levels of military command and focused on regional security issues.
  • Economic cooperation by extending the Trans-Pacific Partnership to include China, Japan and India.

Source: Kevin Rudd, "Beyond the Pivot: A New Road Map for U.S.-Chinese Relations," Foreign Affairs, March/April 2013.


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