The relationship between the United States and China, one country an established power, the other a rising power, will decisively shape the 21st century world. Of the many aspects of this relationship, one of the most important is the strategic relationship, with “strategic” meaning the many ways that the two countries’ plans, doctrines, capabilities, postures, and actions interact across the nuclear offensive and defensive, outer space, and cyber realms.
Building a stable and cooperative “win-win” strategic relationship serves the interests of both the United States and China. It would contribute to both countries’ security interests, not least by avoiding dangerous military competition, confrontation, or even conflict between our two countries in the years ahead. A cooperative strategic relationship would also provide a foundation for action to address global political, security, and economic challenges. It would allow scarce leadership attention, political capital, and economic resources in both countries to be used to address pressing domestic, economic, social, and other priorities.
The tough challenges that our countries’ leaders need to address in pursuing greater strategic cooperation are well known. They range from the long-standing political disagreements over Taiwan to mutual uncertainties about each other’s military intentions, plans, programs, and activities – both at the strategic level and in Asia. But there are also important foundations for building greater cooperation, including the economic interdependence between the two countries and the recognition by both countries’ leaderships of the importance of this relationship.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
Regarding more specific next steps, five areas stand out for possible future dialogue and action: