Managing geostrategic and economic competition between the United States and China is one of the most consequential and complex challenges we face.
Under Xi Jinping, China has demonstrated a willingness to weaponize its economic power to impose its influence, and countries are waking up to the vulnerabilities created by China’s dominance of critical supply chains. The trade war between the two countries, begun by President Trump, persists. China boasts the world’s largest army, and its military spending has grown five-fold over the last two decades and continues to grow as it pursues military modernization efforts. China also has more diplomatic outposts than any other country, and its carbon output is equal to the next three countries combined and likely to increase as it seeks economic growth. Under Xi, mass surveillance and internet censorship have become a central pillar of control and suppression.
These trends and activities have put the United States and China on a path towards tension, and diplomatic relations between the two countries have soured precipitously during the Covid-19 pandemic. China has cut off many channels for dialogue and concern over a military confrontation around Taiwan is high. A military conflict between the United States and China would be catastrophic, but it is not inevitable. Renewed dialogue and diplomacy are critical to preventing misunderstanding and creating space for de-escalation. The U.S. and Chinese economies are too intertwined to risk complete decoupling, nor would this be desirable as the world’s two largest economies. Moreover, transnational, and existential threats like climate change, pandemic preparedness, and nuclear nonproliferation will require the United States and China to work together. Partners and allies also look to the United States to responsibly manage this relationship, many of whom depend on China for trade.
The United States has extraordinary strengths—including our alliances and partnerships around the world and the vitality of our economy and democratic institutions—to draw on in pursuing a future that protects our values, promotes freedom and prosperity, and enables the right of people everywhere, including Taiwan, to determine their own future peacefully.
of American voters say the U.S. should hold high-level diplomatic talks with China
You can encourage your elected representatives in Congress to invest in the sources of American strength, including by funding critical industrial policy investments at home. This will strengthen supply chains and ensure U.S. maintains a competitive edge in important sectors like technology and science.
At the same time, you can encourage your leaders to avoid rhetoric and actions that needlessly escalate tensions. Not only will this minimize the blowback to Asian Americans here at home, but it will also ensure that we have enough space to de-escalate tensions and find flexibility for cooperation on mutually important challenges like climate change and pandemic preparedness.