US-China Relations: Accidents can happen

The victory of the Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan’s recent presidential election has raised serious concern over the possibility of a conflict across the Taiwan Strait that could provoke American intervention. A military engagement between China and the United States in the Asia-Pacific would have disastrous consequences for the stability and prosperity of the entire region. The fundamental problem is a clash of interests between an existing superpower and an emerging power. As China grows stronger and becomes more confident and assertive, mutual suspicion and tension will increase.

The World Today Published 1 May 2000 Updated 27 October 2020 5 minute READ

Rex Li

Senior Lecturer in International Relations, Liverpool John Moors University

Taiwan is not the only area over which Washington and Beijing have disagreements. On a whole range of strategic, political and economic issues the perceptions of American and Chinese policy-makers differ profoundly. This could have a major impact on US-China relations. Indeed, my recent research, based on a variety of primary and secondary sources, suggests that elite perceptions will play a significant part in shaping East Asian security.

This is not to say that the two nations do not have common interests. US and Chinese leaders are fond of using the term ‘constructive strategic partnership’ to describe their relations. It would certainly be beneficial for both to have such a relationship, but it has yet to be established.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.