On January 22, the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) hosted a lunch featuring Ashley Tellis, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and author of a new GMF paper "Power Shift: How the West Can Adapt and Thrive in an Asian Century." Daniel Twining, GMF Senior Fellow for Asia, moderated the event.
Tellis began by discussing the context in which he wrote the paper. The Asian economic miracle, he argued, was a byproduct of the preponderance of American power during the Cold War and immediate post-Cold War periods. The current century would be an Asian century, in which power would shift towards Asian economies, most significantly China. The scope and speed of China's rise was already producing a great deal of uncertainty, as well as a dilemma for the United States and its transatlantic allies. On the one hand, maintaining the status quo would further strengthen China, whose increasing power posed a potential challenge to the current international order. Strategies to restrict China's growth, however, would result in a net loss for the global economy. How then, Tellis asked, should the West handle the impending power shift? He outlined three strategies which would help it escape its dilemma: maximizing economic and commercial interdependence between itself and China; engaging China comprehensively while strategically developing partnerships with China's neighbors; and finally renewing its own economic and military power.
Discussion centered on the practicality of his recommendations. Questions posed to Tellis addressed the risks associated with engaging China at different levels and the nature of the Chinese economic model. Specific questions focused on the impact of changes in Taiwan's status and how regional cooperation in Asia could affect U.S.-China Relations. Tellis acknowledged commonalities between his analysis and recent U.S. policy, and emphasized the nuances and moderation that accompanies any engagement with China. He also stressed the importance of renewed American military and economic power for future good relations with China.