U.S. election year politics and policy debate have paid little attention to Asia apart from trade and economic issues. The presidential candidates have largely ignored the obvious and serious implications of China’s rapidly rising power and influence for U.S. interests in Asian stability and leadership in Asian affairs. This could be short-sighted as China remains a dissatisfied power with steadily growing military capabilities that has a long record of using force and confrontational tactics to advance its interests.
Fortunately, a recent convergence of Chinese, U.S., and Asian “Gulliver strategies” has acted to raise the costs and reduce the likelihood of Chinese use of force or confrontation. But the effectiveness of those strategies remains subject to rapidly changing circumstances in the balance of power and influence in Asia. U.S. policymakers need to remain attentive to Asian changes that could upset prevailing stability and require remedial action by the United States.