What the U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan Means for Taiwan
There are many reasons to fear an impending Chinese attack on Taiwan: Intensified Chinese aerial activity. High-profile Pentagon warnings. Rapid Chinese military modernization. President Xi Jinping’s escalating rhetoric. But despite what recent feverish discussion in foreign policy and military circles is suggesting, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan isn’t one of them.
Some critics of President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan argue the move will embolden Beijing because it telegraphs weakness — an unwillingness to stick it out and win wars that China will factor in when deciding whether to attack Taiwan, which it considers to be part of its territory.
The reality is, though, that the U.S. departure from Afghanistan will more likely give pause to Chinese war planners — not push them to use force against Taiwan.
The Chinese Communist Party’s stated goal is “national rejuvenation”: Regaining China’s standing as a great power. Chinese leaders and thinkers have studied the rise and fall of great powers past. They have long understood that containment by the United States could keep China from becoming a great power itself.
Luckily for Beijing, the Afghan war — along with Iraq and other American misadventures in the Middle East — distracted Washington for two decades. While China was building roads and ports from Beijing to Trieste, Italy, fueling its economy and expanding its geopolitical influence, the United States was pouring money into its war on terrorism. While Beijing was building thousands of acres of military bases in the South China Sea and enhancing its precision-strike capabilities, the U.S. military was fighting an insurgency and dismantling improvised explosive devices.
In many ways, it was just dumb luck that Mr. Xi and his predecessors, thanks in part to the war in Afghanistan, could build national power, undermine international norms, co-opt international organizations and extend their territorial control all without the United States thwarting their plans in any meaningful way.
But the end of the war in Afghanistan could bring these good times — which the Communist Party calls the “period of important strategic opportunities” — to an abrupt end. Sure, over the past 10 years American presidents tried to get back into the Asia game even as the war continued. Barack Obama asserted we would pivot to Asia back in 2011. Donald Trump’s national security team made great power competition with China its top priority.
But neither went much beyond paying lip service. The withdrawal shows Mr. Biden is truly refocusing his national security priorities — he even listed the need to “focus on shoring up America’s core strengths to meet the strategic competition with China” as one of the reasons for the drawdown.
Such a refocusing comes not a moment too soon. Chinese expansion and militarization in the South China Sea, deadly skirmishes with India, its crackdown in Hong Kong and repression in Xinjiang all point to an increasingly confident and aggressive China. In particular, Chinese military activity around Taiwan has spiked — 2020 witnessed a record number of incursions into Taiwan’s airspace. The sophistication and scale of military exercises has increased as well. These escalations come alongside recent warnings from Mr. Xi that any foreign forces daring to bully China “will have their heads bashed bloody” and efforts toward “Taiwan independence” will be met with “resolute action.”
The U.S. policy toward Taiwan is “strategic ambiguity” — there is no explicit promise to defend it from Chinese attack. In this tense environment, U.S. policymakers and experts are feverishly considering ways to make U.S. commitment to Taiwan more credible and enhance overall military deterrence against China. A recent $750 million arms sale proposal to Taiwan is part of these efforts, as is talk of inviting Taiwan to a democracy summit, which undoubtedly would provoke Beijing’s ire.
Some have argued that America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan undermines efforts to signal U.S. support for Taiwan. On the surface, it may seem as if the U.S. withdrawal would be a good thing for China’s prospects at what it calls “armed reunification.” Indeed, this is the message the nationalist Chinese newspaper The Global Times is peddling: The United States will cast Taiwan aside just as it has done with Vietnam, and now Afghanistan.
However, the American departure from Afghanistan creates security concerns in China’s own backyard that could distract it from its competition with the United States. Beijing’s strategy to protect its global interests is a combination of relying on host nation security forces and private security contractors and free-riding off other countries’ military presence. Analysts have concluded that China is less likely than the United States to rely on its military to protect its interests abroad. Beijing appears committed to avoiding making the same mistakes as Washington — namely, an overreliance on military intervention overseas to advance foreign policy objectives.
Now there will be no reliable security presence in Afghanistan and undoubtedly broader instability in a region with significant economic and commercial interests for China. Chinese leaders are also worried that conflict in Afghanistan could spill across the border into neighboring Xinjiang, where Beijing’s repressive tactics have already been the cause of much international opprobrium.
The reality is, the United States stayed much longer in Afghanistan than most expected. This upsets China’s calculus about what the United States would do in a Taiwan crisis, since conventional wisdom in Beijing had been that the painful legacy of Somalia would deter Washington from ever coming to Taipei’s aid.
But U.S. interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq have called these assumptions into question. Taiwan, with its proportionately large economy and semiconductor industry, is strategically important to the United States. U.S. power and influence in East Asia are reliant on its allies and military bases in the region and America’s broader role as the security partner of choice. If Taiwan were to fall to Chinese aggression, many countries, U.S. allies included, would see it as a sign of the arrival of a Chinese world order. By comparison, Afghanistan is less strategically important, and yet the United States stayed there for 20 years.
This does not bode well for any designs Beijing might have for Taiwan.
It’s true that China would benefit from a home-field advantage given Taiwan’s proximity, and that Beijing’s arsenal is far greater than Taiwan’s. China, too, would likely enjoy more domestic public support for any conflict than the U.S. would for yet another intervention.
But if China has any hope of winning a war across the Strait, its military would have to move fast, before the United States has time to respond. Chinese planners know that the longer the war, the greater the U.S. advantage. Unlike Chinese production and manufacturing centers, which can all be targeted by the United States, the American homeland is relatively safe from Chinese conventional attack. China is far more reliant on outside sources for oil and natural gas, and thus vulnerable to U.S. attempts to cut off its supply.
And the Chinese economy would suffer more: Since the war would be happening in Asia, trade would be bound to be disrupted there. The United States would need to stick it out for only a short time — not 20 years — for these factors to come into play.
A call on Thursday between Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi hinted at the stakes — the two “discussed the responsibility of both countries to ensure competition does not veer into conflict,” according to the White House.
Chinese leaders already expected a tense relationship with the Biden administration. Now they are faced with the fact that the United States might have the will and resources to push back against Chinese aggression, even if it means war.
So, while there may be other reasons to oppose the end of the war in Afghanistan, the impact on China’s Taiwan calculus is not — and should not be — one of them.
In a New York Times opinion piece, Center Fellow Oriana Skylar Mastro argues that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan does not represent a potential catalyst for an impending Chinese attack on Taiwan.
Kate Imy joined the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) as Visiting Scholar and 2021-2022 Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Fellow on Contemporary Southeast Asia for the fall quarter of 2021. She currently serves as Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Texas. While at APARC, Imy will be conducting research on the colonial roots of winning "hearts and minds" in war, specifically focusing on Singapore and Malaya.
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Michael (Mike) Breger joined APARC in 2021 and serves as the Center's communications manager. He collaborates with the Center's leadership to share the work and expertise of APARC faculty and researchers with a broad audience of academics, policymakers, and industry leaders across the globe.
Michael started his career at Stanford working at Green Library, and later at the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, serving as the event and communications coordinator. He has also worked in a variety of sales and marketing roles in Silicon Valley.
Michael holds a master's in liberal arts from Stanford University and a bachelor's in history and astronomy from the University of Virginia. A history buff and avid follower of international current events, Michael loves learning about different cultures, languages, and literatures. When he is not at work, Michael enjoys reading, music, and the outdoors.
Strait of Emergency?
In her recent Foreign Affairs essay, The Taiwan Temptation: Why Beijing Might Resort to Force, Center Fellow Oriana Skylar Mastro argues that Chinese leaders now consider a military campaign to take Taiwan a real possibility and cautions that the United States cannot by itself alter Beijing’s calculus on Taiwan. The essay sparked a heated debate. In the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs, several scholars — Rachel Esplin Odell and Eric Heginbotham, Bonny Lin and David Sacks, and Kharis Templeman — provide counterarguments to Mastro's analysis and she responds to their criticism. Read her complete rebuttal below.
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Rachel Esplin Odell and Eric Heginbotham, Bonny Lin and David Sacks, and Kharis Templeman all argue that China is unlikely to attempt armed unification with Taiwan. Although I appreciate their perspectives, they do not present any new evidence that would make me reconsider my assessment that the risk of Chinese aggression across the Taiwan Strait is real and growing. To the contrary, they repeat many of the increasingly dangerous misperceptions that I sought to dispel in my original article—namely, that China does not have the military capabilities to pull off an amphibious invasion, that the economic costs of an invasion would be sufficient to deter Chinese President Xi Jinping, and that China can afford to wait indefinitely to achieve its most important national goal of unification. My critics assume that insofar as there are risks, they can be dealt with through relatively limited adjustments in U.S. policy and military posture — a position with which I still strongly disagree.
Let’s take these arguments in order. My critics say that I have exaggerated China’s military capabilities and understated the difficulties of an invasion. But their assessments rely on outdated or largely irrelevant comparisons. Odell and Heginbotham, for instance, note that the United States needed more naval tonnage to capture Okinawa from Japan in 1945 than China has today. But this example is inapposite. Japan’s military was more than six million strong in 1945 and had been fighting for over a decade; Taiwan’s military consists of 88,000 personnel and two million reservists, of whom only 300,000 are required to complete even a five-week refresher training course. Tonnage, moreover, is not a useful metric. Modern navies have moved to lighter, more flexible fleets. Odell and Heginbotham point out that civilian ships were of only limited use in the Falklands War, but the United Kingdom used just 62 of them in that campaign. The People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia has many thousands of ships and is closer to a naval force than a civilian one. If China were to mobilize all its naval vessels, including its new large amphibious transport ships and civilian ships, it could hypothetically carry hundreds of thousands of troops across the 80-mile-wide Taiwan Strait in a short period of time. Even if the United States had enough warning to optimally position its submarines, it does not have enough munitions to target such a large force.
For their part, Lin and Sacks argue that to believe China can take Taiwan by force is to fall for a Chinese misinformation campaign. They warn that “analysts should not accept at face value China’s claim that it could easily win a fight against Taiwan.” But no one, not even the cockiest of People’s Liberation Army analysts, argues that a full-scale attack on Taiwan would be easy, only that the PLA could prevail at an acceptable cost. Moreover, my assessment of Chinese military capabilities is not based on Chinese discourse or the results of war games alone. Reams of unbiased and rigorous analysis—from the U.S. Department of Defense’s annual report to Congress on China’s military modernization to Congressional Research Service reports on Chinese naval modernization to hundreds of studies by think tanks and defense-affiliated organizations, such as the RAND Corporation—suggest that the PLA has made unparalleled advances in the past two decades and could take on the United States in certain scenarios. Indeed, Heginbotham himself argued in 2017 that “the balance of power between the United States and China may be approaching a series of tipping points, first in contingencies close to the Chinese coast (e.g., Taiwan).”
I do not mean to suggest that a Chinese invasion would be a cakewalk. Taiwan could get some shots in, but it does not have the ability to defend itself. Luckily, the United States would, I believe, come to Taiwan’s aid and could still prevail in many scenarios. Taiwan is far from a lost cause. But ten years ago, the United States would have prevailed in any scenario. Because there are now some scenarios in which U.S. strategists think the United States could lose, it is not unfathomable to think that Chinese strategists have come to a similar conclusion.
My critics also argue that economic considerations will deter Beijing. Should China attempt to use force to assert control over Taiwan, the international response would be severe enough to imperil Xi’s ambitious development goals. But as I argued in my original article, Chinese analysts have good reason to think the international response would be weak enough to tolerate. China could even reap economic benefits from controlling Taiwan, whose manufacturers accounted for more than 60 percent of global revenue from semiconductors last year. The United States is heavily reliant on Taiwanese semiconductors. Should China take Taiwan, it could conceivably deprive the United States of this technology and gain an economic and military advantage.
But economic costs or benefits, while part of Beijing’s calculus, are unlikely to be the determining factor. Xi’s top priority is protecting China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity—as Beijing defines it. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, its militarization of the South China Sea, and its sanctions against countries that offend it, such as Australia or South Korea, all demonstrate that Chinese leaders are willing to subordinate economic considerations to considerations of power and prestige. In a speech marking the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party in July, Xi warned against foreign attempts to bully or oppress China, declaring that “anyone who dares try to do that will have their heads bashed bloody against the great wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people.” Those words should be taken seriously.
Finally, my critics argue that China has no need to attempt to forcibly unify with Taiwan. Lin and Sacks think peaceful unification is working; Templeman believes China can wait indefinitely to resolve the issue. I disagree because I think unification is a top priority for the Chinese Communist Party and Taiwan will not give up its autonomy without a fight.
A Chinese invasion is by no means imminent or inevitable, but Beijing is now seriously considering initiating a conflict to gain political control over Taiwan, whereas in the past the only scenario in which it would have used force was to prevent Taipei from declaring independence. I agree with Templeman that China is unlikely to invade in the next four years (although I think this is largely because China could benefit from more time to prepare, not because it fears U.S. President Joe Biden’s resolve), but his argument that China can wait indefinitely is logically and empirically flawed. As I argued in my original article, Xi has made numerous statements that suggest he wants to achieve unification during his reign. It would be unwise to dismiss these as mere rhetoric, since he has repeatedly voiced his intention to assert control over other territorial claims before doing exactly that — in the South China Sea, by building military infrastructure and conducting naval drills, and in Hong Kong, by imposing a harsh national security law last year.
Templeman argues that if China believes the United States is in decline, then it has every reason to wait on Taiwan. But in the eyes of Chinese strategists, American decline actually hastens the need for action. Power transition theory, which holds that war becomes more likely as the gap between a rising power and an established great power diminishes, is also studied in Beijing. And although U.S. strategists fret that a rising China, dissatisfied with the U.S.-led international order, will become aggressive and start a conflagration, Chinese strategists fear a different pathway to war. They worry that the United States, unable to accept its inevitable decline, will make a dangerous last-ditch effort to hold on to its unrivaled great-power status. By this logic, a declining United States is more dangerous than a stable, ascendant one.
Lin and Sacks make a different argument for why Beijing does not need to attempt armed unification. They believe that Chinese leaders remain committed to their long-standing approach of limited coercion coupled with economic incentives showcasing the benefits of unification because that strategy is working. As evidence of Beijing’s progress, Lin and Sacks point to polling that shows the majority of people in Taiwan support the status quo, not independence. But it is an enormous leap from not supporting independence to desiring or conceding to unification. As Lin and Sacks themselves acknowledge, China has employed this strategy of limited coercion and economic inducements for decades, but Taiwan is no closer to being a part of mainland China. In a September 2020 poll conducted by National Chengchi University, only six percent of Taiwanese citizens preferred eventual or immediate unification. So although Lin and Sacks are correct that Beijing will likely continue with its carrot-and-stick approach, it will still need to put boots on the ground to gain full political control of Taiwan.
My critics also raise concerns about some of the policy implications of my argument. Odell and Heginbotham warn against focusing too much on the credibility of the U.S. military threat when it comes to deterrence, rightly highlighting the equal importance of reassurance. They warn that changes in U.S. policy toward Taiwan could convince Beijing that the United States now supports Taiwanese independence — a misperception that could lead to war. But my argument is for a change in posture, not in policy: the United States should develop the force posture and operational plans to deny China its objective in Taiwan and then credibly reveal these new capabilities. It should not make dangerous policy changes that would risk provoking a Chinese military response. Indeed, I have argued elsewhere that even if a war breaks out over Taiwan and the United States wins, Washington should not demand Taiwan’s independence as one of the terms of peace.
Templeman raises a separate concern: that highlighting the potential costs of defending Taiwan could bolster the case of those advocating that Washington abandon Taipei. If this were a serious worry, I would be the first to shift my work to more private channels. But those calling for the United States to reconsider its commitment to defend Taiwan are still in the minority, and the Biden administration has been clear that it would come to Taiwan’s aid in the event of an invasion.
Moreover, the reaction of the U.S. Department of Defense to the threat posed by China’s growing military power has been not to back down but to ramp up efforts to counter it. From new doctrines that enhance joint capabilities between the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy to base-resilience initiatives to efforts to improve U.S. early warning systems in the region, the Pentagon is firing on all cylinders to ensure it can deter and, if necessary, defeat China in a wide range of conflict scenarios. U.S. Cyber Command, the U.S. Space Force, and the Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center were all established partly to counter Chinese advantages in those organizations’ respective domains. If Lin and Sacks are correct that China exaggerates its capabilities to try to convince the United States to give up, Beijing has achieved the opposite.
In the end, all my critics highlight an important truth: the situation across the Taiwan Strait has been relatively stable for 70 years because of the United States. Washington has managed to convince Beijing that armed unification would fail and that China would pay a hefty price for trying. But China is not the same country it was 70 years ago. Its rapid military modernization, spectacular economic ascent, and growing global influence have changed Beijing’s calculus on many issues. It has taken a more assertive approach to international institutions; built one of the world’s largest, most capable militaries; and extended its economic influence deep and far throughout the world. It would be wishful thinking to assume that China has not also changed its thinking on Taiwan.
Indeed, although my critics argue that China is unlikely to invade, they still recommend that Taiwan improve its defenses and that the United States enhance its military posture in the region — not exactly a vote of confidence in Beijing’s restraint. I had hoped to convince skeptics that China is now seriously considering armed unification, but at least our debate has yielded a consensus that more must be done in Taipei and Washington to enhance deterrence across the Taiwan Strait.
Debating Beijing’s Threat to Taiwan
The Precarious State of Cross-Strait Deterrence
Cross-strait deterrence is arguably weaker today than at any point since the Korean War. Impressive Chinese military modernization, U.S. failure to build robust coalitions to counter Chinese regional aggression, and Xi Jinping’s personal ambition, all coalesce to create a situation in which Chinese leaders may see some aggregate benefit to using force. Mastro supports this assessment in her response to the Commission’s specific questions.
Oriana Skylar Mastro Testifies on Deterring PRC Aggression Toward Taiwan to Congressional Review CommissionRead the full story
Deterrence and Defense Across the Taiwan Strait
Russia and China Team Up on the Indian Ocean
This commentary was first published by The Lowy Institute.
Two recent naval exercises demonstrate the potential for Russia-China cooperation in the Indian Ocean, and how the two present a much greater threat to a continued US role and influence in the region than either would individually.
Last year, South Africa hosted a maritime exercise with Russia and China, the first-ever trilateral exercise among the three countries. Exercise Mosi was designed, according to the South African Navy, to “enhance interoperability and maritime security“ and showed the three countries’ willingness to work together to counter security threats at sea, such as terrorism and piracy. There were the obligatory social and cultural activities, and then military maneuvers that focused on a surface gunnery exercise, helicopter cross-deck landings, boarding operations and disaster control exercises.
China and Russia followed this up in December 2019 with another trilateral maritime exercise with Iran in the Gulf of Oman called Exercise Marine Security Belt. The exercises included live-fire drills and an anti-piracy exercise involving Iranian commandos. According to the Iranian naval commander, the exercises’ message was that “Iran cannot be isolated.” A Chinese spokesman stated: “The naval drills aim to deepen exchange and cooperation among the navies of the three countries, and display their strong will and capability to jointly maintain world peace and maritime security”.
Both China and Russia have gradually been increasing their presence in the Indian Ocean. Russia recently announced it would establish a naval facility in Port Sudan on the Red Sea. China opened its first overseas base in Djibouti in 2017, and China’s navy has increased operations in the Indian Ocean region over the past three decades.
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The Covid-19 crisis may have slowed further moves towards cooperation this year. Moscow just hosted the 12th BRICS summit virtually, which doesn’t lend itself to deep military engagement. But the trilateral exercises are notable because they signal Moscow’s and Beijing’s desire to cooperate in the region. And more importantly, they reveal that regional powers such as South Africa and Iran, as well as other countries, welcome the increased role of China and Russia.
Relations between South Africa and the United States were already strained when Pretoria agreed to the trilateral exercises last year. Under the Trump administration, the United States grew critical of South Africa’s UN voting record. Washington also declined to exempt the country from hikes in tariffs on US imports of steel and aluminum. In contrast, China has pledged the most investments of any country in South Africa. Russia has followed in its footsteps in building political, military and trade ties across sub-Saharan Africa.
Iran has even more reason to build relations with China and Russia. Since the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, Iran has strengthened its ties to China and Russia, using multi-billion-dollar loans from the two countries to resist US sanctions and deepening defense cooperation and intelligence sharing.
Smaller countries can also find the Russia-China nexus useful. According to a Chinese-language source, Sudan, a long-standing regional partner of China, first proposed hosting a Russian base in 2017 as a counterbalance “against aggressive acts of the United States”.
In other words, China and Russia together may be better equipped to compete with the United States and its allies in the Indian Ocean region for influence, for several reasons.
Moscow may be more willing than Beijing to play the ringleader role in organizing and directing opposition against the United States, but it doesn’t have the economic heft to make such cooperation a winning proposition for Indian Ocean states.
While China has considerable resources, it is more concerned about provoking the United States and potentially worsening already poor relations. China often argues that it is a different type of great power, one that does not engage in hegemonic behavior such as alliance formation. China is also keen to avoid sparking a countervailing coalition against it.
For these reasons, Beijing often tones down its rhetoric about the nature of its relationship with Russia. China claimed the Indian Ocean exercises do “not target any third party”. For Russia, however, overtly undermining the United States is a key component of its strategy and plays well domestically for Putin.
On the other hand, China has the economic resources to wield influence and invest heavily in Indian Ocean countries. In Pakistan alone, Beijing has pledged an estimated $87 billion in funding and completed roughly $20 billion worth of projects. Recently, Beijing and Tehran reportedly agreed to a 25-year deal to expand China’s investment in Iranian banking, telecommunications, ports and railways in exchange for oil.
While China and Russia are nowhere near dominating the Indian Ocean region militarily, their combined influence may promise trouble for the United States and its partners. The two countries will likely work together to inure their partners to international pressure, including over human rights violations. And those partners will receive security benefits (such as military access) and economic benefits (such as preferential economic ties) in return. Although it seems a bit exaggerated, there is some truth to Iranian Admiral Hossein Khanzadi’s declaration that strategic coordination with Russia and China means “the era of American free action in the region is over”.
China and Russia may be slow in enhancing their strategic coordination in the Indian Ocean slowly, but the intent is there. The United States and its allies may still be dominant militarily. But we should be careful not to fall under the illusion that this guarantees influence. With China and Russia presenting themselves as strong alternative powers, the United States and like-minded countries have to work that much harder to promote sustainable economic development, protect international rules and norms, and ensure peace and security in the region.
Rhe US and its allies may have military dominance in the region, but it’s no guarantee of influence.
Exploring India's Strategic Futures
This report uses a novel alternative futures methodology to demonstrate that India’s strategic preferences are not fixed but could vary discontinuously under different environmental conditions.
The method of major/minor trends developed in this report suggests that the roots of apparently surprising future behavior can be found in a close reading of a target state’s history. Using this method, the report outlines three unlikely but plausible alternative futures of India as a strategic actor. The first scenario envisions India as a Hindu-nationalist revisionist power hostile to Pakistan but accommodating of China; in the second, it is a militarily risk-acceptant state that provokes dangerous crises with China; and in the third scenario, India is a staunch competitor to China that achieves some success through partnerships with other U.S. rivals like Russia and Iran. These scenarios are designed not to predict the future but to sensitize U.S. policymakers to possible strategic disruptions. They also serve to highlight risks and tensions in current policy.
The scenarios yield at least three major analytic insights that are relevant for today’s policymakers:
- India will continue to face difficult trade-offs in managing security threats from Pakistan and China. A redoubled strategic focus on Pakistan will almost certainly come at the expense of Indian capacity to compete with China in the Indian Ocean region.
- A more confident and risk-acceptant Indian military may inadvertently pose strategic threats to the U.S. The U.S. may feel compelled to support India in future crises involving China; or even absent such a commitment trap, India-China crises are likely to jeopardize regional stability.
- To effectively compete with China, the U.S. must prioritize its interests and adversaries. Successful competition against China may require the U.S. to tolerate or even tacitly support other erstwhile rivals.
Navigating Chinese Investment, Trade, and Technology: The New Economy Conference
In collaboration with Global:SF and the State of California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, the China Program at Shorenstein APARC presented session five of the New Economy Conference, "Navigating Chinese Investment, Trade, and Technology," on May 19. The program featured distinguished speakers Ambassador Craig Allen, President of the US-China Business Council; David K. Cheng, Chair and Managing Partner of China & Asia Pacific Practice at Nixon Peabody LLP; James Green, Senior Research Fellow at the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues at Georgetown University; and Anja Manuel, Co-Founder and Principal of Rice, Hadley, Gates & Manuel LLC. The session was opened by Darlene Chiu Bryant, Executive Director of GlobalSF, and moderated by Professor Jean Oi, William Haas Professor of Chinese Politics and director of the APARC China Program.
U.S.-China economic relations have grown increasingly fraught and competitive. Even amidst intensifying tensions, however, our two major economies remain intertwined. While keeping alert to national security concerns, the economic strength of the United States will depend on brokering a productive competition with China, the world’s fastest growing economy. Precipitous decoupling of trade, investment, and human talent flows between the two nations will inflict unnecessary harm to U.S. economic interests--and those of California.
Chinese trade and investments into California have grown exponentially over the last decade. But they have come under increasing pressure following geopolitical and economic tensions between the two nations, particularly in the science and technology sectors. Ambassador Craig Allen, David Cheng, James Green, and Anja Manuel explored the role of Chinese economic activity in California in the context of the greater US-Chinese relationship. Watch now:
Ambassador Craig Allen, David Cheng, James Green, and Anja Manuel explore the role of Chinese economic activity in California in the context of the greater US-Chinese relationship.
Chinese Space Ambition
Space strategy is central to great-power competition and China believes it needs to excel and compete effectively in space, whether in civilian, commercial, or military usage, says Center Fellow Oriana Skylar Mastro on Space Strategy, a podcast from the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC). Listen below:
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Mastro joined podcast host Peter Garretson, Senior Fellow in Defense Studies at AFPC, to examine how China views space and why space is key to any military conflict, particularly across the Taiwan strait.
The U.S. military is far superior to the Chinese, says Mastro, yet one main reason China might prevail in a conflict over Taiwan is that it might achieve its goals before the United States can amass enough forces to respond. “Whether the United States can do this is largely dependent on space."
During this conversation, Mastro discusses China's approach to negotiation, deterrence, diplomacy, and inducements; the potential for misunderstanding and escalation in targeting U.S. space assets; and the considerations that impact U.S.-China space cooperation. She also explains how freedom in space is critical to avoiding foreign dependence and why the United States must build a resilient military space architecture and not surrender global leadership in pursuing aspirational and inspirational space goals.
On the American Foreign Policy Council Space Strategy podcast, Center Fellow Oriana Skylar Mastro discusses how China views space and why the United States must not surrender global leadership in pursuing aspirational and inspirational space goals.