The U.S.–China relationship has so far been the subject of relatively infrequent—and only very general—debate in the 2016 presidential campaign. But it remains a huge and vexing question. Barack Obama’s successor will have significant decisions to make about near- and long-term American strategy in Asia, as Beijing continues to challenge—and seeks to supplant—traditional U.S. influence in the Western Pacific.
Already this year, on May 26, the Chinese military has released a formal “White Paper” outlining a new and strikingly aggressive national policy of “active defense.” And later this month, during the Communist Party Central Committee’s annual plenary session, Beijing will approve and announce its 13th “Five Year Plan” for economic development—which is expected to highlight President Xi Jinping’s ambitious “One Belt, One Road” program to bring 65 different countries (accounting for almost two-thirds of the world’s population) further into the “Chinese sphere.”
What more should we anticipate from China in the coming months and years? What are Beijing’s broadest goals—and how should America’s next president position the United States and its allies in response? On October 23, Hudson Institute welcomed four leading Asia specialists for a searching discussion of these important issues: Dan Blumenthal (Director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute) and Jacqueline Deal (President and CEO of the Long Term Strategy Group) have both contributed full-length chapters to a recent John Hay Initiative report on the future of American foreign policy. Mark Stokes (Executive Director of the Project 2049 Institute) is the former team chief and senior country director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. Senior Fellow Michael Pillsbury, Director of Hudson’s Center for Chinese Strategy, moderated the panel.