We are happy to share that Oriana Skylar Mastro, an incoming FSI Center Fellow at APARC, has been awarded the 2020 America in the World Consortium Prize for Best Policy Article on U.S. Foreign Policy and Grand Strategy for her article, “The Stealth Superpower: How China Hid Its Global Ambitions” in Foreign Affairs. The award is given annually by the Consortium — which includes the Kissinger Center and Johns Hopkins SAIS, Duke University, and the University of Texas at Austin — for research articles by pre-tenure scholars addressing a major issue of American foreign policy.
Mastro's winning article provides an insightful analysis of the careful, deliberate efforts the PRC has undertaken to obscure its growing global influence. “Although Beijing has pursued an indirect and entrepreneurial strategy of accumulating power,” she writes, “make no mistake: the ultimate goal is to push the United States out of the Indo-Pacific and rival it on the global stage.” Her research as an academic and a United States Air Force Reserve officer focuses on rising global powers and how perceptions of power impact the process and precursors to conflict, particularly in regards to China and East Asian security. As an FSI Center Fellow, she will be based at APARC and also work with CISAC.
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Mastro describes how the current administration in China epitomizes Deng Xiaoping’s counsel to “Hide your strength, bide your time” by exploiting gaps in international policy and American attention. Rather than compete outright, China leverages ambiguities in existing policies and practices in order to further its agenda and ambitions while still remaining within the rubric of international order. This strategy has allowed it to continue in its assertions in the South China Sea, establish rules on technology like AI that favor Chinese companies while stalling consensus on other issues like cybersecurity and “cyber-sovereignty,” and create a network of economic and political partnerships with nations traditionally outside the United State’s purview.
The result is that China is carefully cultivating a quiet but hugely impactful influence across the globe. To counter this strategy, Mastro urges the United States to lead out on the world stage by increasing its participation in international institutions and agreements, and through deepening and diversifying its relationships with allies and partners. In a time when international tensions are increasing and a pivotal election looms, these perspectives couldn’t be more timely.
Congratulations, Oriana, on the recognition for your excellent research and insight!