Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 08/2009

Managing Strategic Competition with China

Philip C. Saunders

July 2009

Academy of Political Science


Officials in the Obama administration have highlighted the need for a “positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship” with China that can help the United States address an array of global challenges. Administration officials have not adopted the “responsible stakeholder” language that characterized recent U.S. China policy, but their overall approach appears compatible with that concept. Initial policy statements have focused on expanding U.S.-China cooperation, with particular emphasis on addressing the global economic crisis and climate change. This paper focuses on an important but neglected topic: how to address the challenges posed by China’s development of advanced strategic and military capabilities that might threaten U.S. interests within the context of a broader policy emphasizing engagement and cooperation with China.