All Shorenstein APARC News News February 11, 2021

Military Competition with China: Harder to Win Than During the Cold War?

On February 10th, the APARC China Program hosted Professor Oriana Mastro to discuss military relations between the US and China, and why deterrence might be even more difficult than during the Cold War.
Photograph of Xi Jinping and Vladmir Putin walking in front of two lines of armed Chinese soldiers
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On February 10, 2021, the China Program at Shorenstein APARC hosted Professor Oriana Skylar Mastro, Center Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies​ for the virtual program "Military Competition with China: Harder to Win Than During the Cold War?" Professor Jean Oi, William Haas Professor of Chinese Politics and director of the APARC China Program, moderated the event.

As US-China competition intensifies, experts debate the degree to which the current strategic environment resembles that of the Cold War. Those that argue against the analogy often highlight how China is deeply integrated into the US-led world order. They also point out that, while tense, US-China relations have not turned overtly adversarial. But there is another, less optimistic reason the comparison is unhelpful: deterring and defeating Chinese aggression is harder now than it was against the Soviet Union. In her talk, Dr. Mastro analyzed how technology, geography, relative resources and the alliance system complicate U.S. efforts to enhance the credibility of its deterrence posture and, in a crisis, form any sort of coalition. Mastro and Oi's thought-provoking discussion ranged from the topic of why even US allies are hesitant to take a strong stance against China to whether or not Taiwan could be a catalyst for military conflict. Watch now: