Risks & Trends

5 | Two Caveats

Foreign Policy

Sulmaan Wasif Khan | The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomcy, Tufts University and the author of Haunted by Chaos: China’s Grand Strategy from Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping
5 | Two Caveats
5 | Two Caveats
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China's Grand Strategy

5

June 3, 2021
BIG IDEA | ‘Highlighting the strategic questionability of China’s policies doesn’t mean that Beijing’s fears of the outside world are completely unjustified.’

‘Two caveats are worth noting.’

‘First, highlighting the strategic questionability of China’s policies doesn’t mean that Beijing’s fears of the outside world are completely unjustified.’

  • ‘The Trump administration aired a deep Sinophobia that has continued into the Biden era.’
  • ‘The U.S. defense budget is still heavily focused on countering China; the Quad seems to have been reinvented for the same purpose.’
  • ‘It would be irresponsible for Chinese leaders not to take these developments seriously.’

‘The problem is not China’s threat assessment.’

  • ‘It is rather that the wolf warriors seem to be reacting not out of a dispassionate assessment of that threat and how best to address it but simply out of pique.’

‘Second, buried as it may be, grand strategic thinking is not yet entirely snuffed out. There are still voices that hark back to China’s older style of conducting foreign affairs.’

  • ‘Vigorous debate about cutting Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects suggests that there is a segment within China’s policymaking circles focused on assessing pros and cons.’
  • ‘With Japan, China has managed to improve relations since 2015.’
  • ‘Even the skirmishes with India were the product not of mindless nationalism but of a considered policy that is willing to risk force in securing vulnerable borderlands.’
  • ‘All this suggests that there are still calculating heads in Beijing and they might yet prevail.’

‘Both China and the rest of the world should hope they do.’

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