The first would require halting and in short order reversing, the cycle of trade war escalation from the past year. While U. The second step, arguably more important for avoiding tragic and needless military confrontation, is backing away from this missile deployment plan. Though Esper and other supporters may cast it as a necessary means of deterrence against Beijing, that framing is based in an imagined capabilities gap. The United States is already more than capable of deterring China, which though growing in military strength nevertheless has a far smaller and weaker military capacity.
Moreover, this missile deployment would not be a risk-free bolstering of established defense options. On the contrary, it runs a real chance of inciting a new arms race as China, feeling threatened, responds by increasing its own missile arsenal. The deployment could also unintentionally incentivize Chinese first strikes as Beijing, ringed by U. In either of these scenarios — each made likelier by a general attitude of antagonism from Washington — the missile deployment would make the United States less secure while requiring U.
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That does not mean pretending China is not the authoritarian state we know it to be. It does not mean denying human rights abuses or acceding to every demand from Beijing regardless of U. View the discussion thread. The discussants also noted that U. Historically, China has tried to keep pace with competitors when new missile defense technologies become available, and it should continue to do so, one discussant said. The effectiveness of the Chinese missile defense program is hard to gauge given the ambiguities in U. As China grows its defense capacity and the United States moves toward more a confrontational approach toward China, stability in the region could be disrupted.
While the panelists agreed that war remains a possibility, they said it is still possible to return to a stable, balanced East Asian security framework through peaceful dialogue. Follow the conversation— Sign up to receive email updates when comments are posted to this article. Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy.
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This event was off the record. National Security Strategy identified China as a rival power competing for global influence, a conclusion that both the Department of Defense Nuclear Posture Review and Missile Defense Review reiterated and expanded on. Now, however, U. Beijing, however, retained a low level of defense and was confident in its ability to survive potential nuclear war, given that it would likely not have been a target, the panelists noted.
The world entered a period of relative calm in terms of arms control with the INF treaty and subsequent agreements to limit the growth and spread of nuclear programs. But the United States recently withdrew from the INF treaty and has ignored international criticism about its deployment of missile systems like THAAD, threatening the near-thirty year period of arms control stability.
Recommendations for China: The panelists said they hoped that China will ask questions to clarify U. One panelist said that U. China must figure out what constitutes reliable nuclear deterrence relative to the U. In addition, Beijing must discuss whether and how to respond to U.