February 26th, 2019

Will America Create a Cold War With China?

American policy towards China is now up for grabs, with hardliners and soft-liners battling for the upper hand. The hardliners view China as an existential threat to American security and interests. The soft-liners regard China as a powerful counterpart, on occasion friend, competitor, or adversary, but not an existential threat. In my view, the of- ficial adoption of the hardline approach would prove disastrous, creating a self- fulfilling grave risk of future conflict.

American views of China are highly unstable. China was an American ally in World War II, but then quickly be- came an implacable American foe after the communist victory in China’s civil war. Mao’s China was a military adver- sary of the United States in the Korean War, and was viewed as a hostile na- tion by policy makers until 1972. China increasingly was seen as an American friend and an important counter-weight to the Soviet Union following Richard Nixon’s surprise visit to China.

During most of China’s rapid eco- nomic rise after Deng Xiaoping’s reforms began in 1978, China was viewed by American politicians, busi- ness, and the broad public as a new and important trading partner and as a mostly benign, if large, geopolitical counterpart. Yet now China is again rapidly being viewed as a dangerous enemy according to many American pundits and policymakers.

Read the entire article in Horizons here.


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