Power and Norms in U.S. Asia Strategy
China's rise is one of the most significant geopolitical events in modern history, with important ramifications for U.S. interests, regional power balances, and the international order. As the Obama administration confronts a broad set of worldwide challenges, questions remain as to how the United States should engage China amidst uncertainty about its long-term intentions and how to balance this important relationship against concerns regarding China's behavior in the international community. In this light, the Center for a New American Security recently released a long-term strategic assessment of China's rise and its implications for U.S. policy in Asia, China's Arrival: A Framework for a Global Relationship. The report, authored by Ambassador Linton Brooks, Dr. Joshua Busby, Abraham Denmark, Lindsey Ford, Dr. Michael Green, Dr. G. John Ikenberry, Robert Kaplan, Nirav Patel, Daniel Twining, and Dr. Richard Weitz, takes into account the global significance of China's rise, examines the ever-expanding U.S.-China relationship, and proposes a strategy for future engagement.
Dr. Michael Green, Senior Adviser and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Associate Professor at Georgetown University, and Daniel Twining, Senior Fellow for Asia at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, contribute to the debate on American strategy and regional architecture by considering the role of values-based institutions in the Asian regional order. Green and Twining argue that U.S. policy makers are mistaken to eschew values-based engagement with liberal-democratic Asian friends and allies. They suggest that, especially in the context of a difficult global economic climate, the United States would be wise to focus on the "balance of influence" as much as the balance of power. While agreeing that continued American leadership and regional institutions will play a critical role in shaping China's behavior, the authors contend that China's behavior also can be influenced through closer cooperation with and among Asian democracies to create a structural environment that channels China's external conduct and encourages its internal liberalization. Green and Twining conclude that a "smart power" agenda to bind China to the international order must include a principled form of realism that recognizes the value of ideas and norms in guiding American strategy in a rising Asia.