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China-US Misperception and Crisis Management

A series of articles by Chinese and American experts address misperception, maritime crisis management, nuclear escalation, and the war in Ukraine.

The United States and China are decoupling their societies, not just economies. A lack of exchange of information and ideas dubbed “information decoupling” between the U.S. and China is feeding misperceptions on either side of the Pacific, which leads to a rapid downward spiral in the bilateral relationship. Nowhere are the consequences of these echo chambers graver than in the possibility of a maritime crisis or even a (nuclear) war.

The upcoming Biden-Xi meeting will provide a short window of opportunity for both sides to signal a willingness to stabilize the bilateral relationship, although political dynamics, mistrust, and misperceptions might make this difficult.

This series presents pairs of articles, written by a Chinese and American expert, respectively, on four topics: misperception, nuclear stability, maritime crisis management, and the Ukraine War. The goal is to make explicit some of the misperceptions that drive the mistrust on some of the most pressing issues in China-U.S. relations.

Posts by China-US Misperception and Crisis Management
November 12, 2023

Understanding China’s Policy in the Russia-Ukraine War and Implications for China-US Relations

By Zhao Huasheng
Both China and the U.S. use the conflict as a prism to view future Sino-U.S. relations, from which they imagine possible conflicts and methods of conflict between China and the U.S.

November 12, 2023

The Ukraine War Is About Who Will Control the Future World Order

By Alexandra Vacroux
The war in Ukraine has put the U.S. and China on opposite sides of the conflict. The larger issue here, however, is about who will control the world order of the future.
November 11, 2023

China-US Maritime Crisis Management: Geographical Location Matters 

By Hu Bo
In China’s surrounding waters, including the South and East China seas, its military has air and sea encounters with other nations' forces thousands of times per year, raising the potential for accidental escalation.

November 11, 2023

Managing the Complex Maritime Disputes That Divide China and the US

By Lyle Goldstein
Aside from the exceedingly volatile issue of Taiwan, the next most dangerous issue in China-U.S. relations involves the maritime realm.

November 10, 2023

More Than Just Nuclear: Risk Reduction in the China-US Relationship 

By Fiona S. Cunningham
There is a strong case for discussing this new “nuclear plus” feature of both countries’ approach to strategic deterrence.

November 10, 2023

China’s Concerns About Nuclear Escalation and the Way Forward 

By Guo Xiaobing
China has every reason to worry about the credibility of its nuclear deterrence capabilities.
November 09, 2023

The Benefits (and Limits) of China-US High-Level Diplomatic Engagement

By Susan Thornton
Beijing and Washington have two different visions for what a “stabilized” relationship would look like, and they will be difficult to reconcile.  

November 09, 2023

Avoiding Misperception in the China-US Thaw 

By Da Wei
Reducing misperception is key to avoid unrealistic expectations that might ruin the current process of diplomatic engagement. 

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