Conviction is widespread and increasing in both the United States and China—as well as many other countries—that the U.S.–China relationship is becoming less stable and more dangerous. We do not agree. Relations between Beijing and Washington in 2013 are more extensive, more varied, more interdependent, and more important to one another as well as to the global system than at any time in the past. But suspicion and mutual distrust persist and may have intensified. Yet, despite dramatic changes in the international system and the need to manage fleeting as well as persistent problems, the United States and China have maintained strategic stability for four decades. The relationship is less fragile and volatile than many assert, with strategic stability the result of multiple factors that reinforce one another and limit the deleterious effects of developments threatening specific “pillars” that undergird the relationship. Complacency and failure to address misperceptions and mistrust, however, will have unfortunate consequences for both sides.
Topics: China | United States