Reframing China Policy: The Carnegie Debates

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has hosted a number of debates on some of the most pressing concerns for U.S.-China relations. These include the future of the Communist Party, human rights, Taiwan policy, and China’s role in Asia, covered below:

A summary of the participants’ responses to the question “Will China try to push the U.S. out of Asia?”:

Participants agreed that whether China should seek to eliminate America’s influence in Asia is probably a subject of debate among China’s strategic elites. Though there may be agreement that reduced U.S. regional presence is desirable in the long-term, whether it is immediately necessary or even possible is less clear.

Sutter argued that Chinese leaders have concluded that the costs of taking assertive actions to achieve dominance under prevailing circumstances are too high for overall Chinese administration objectives. These circumstances include the significant power of the United States in Asia, and the presence of independent-minded Asian governments actively working to preserve their autonomy as China rises in prominence.

Sutter also emphasized that throughout history, Chinese leaders – whether emperors or revolutionaries – have tried to remove great power influence on China’s periphery. History suggests that the perception of this threat stems from deep-seated national security concerns, and would thus not change if the Chinese government became more democratic.

A video of the debate, via fora.tv: