The relationship between the United States and China is based on ambiguity. In the United States, both parties almost completely agree on having good relations with Beijing. Washington clings to the policy of only one China and George W. Bush, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice make all efforts so that their relations with China are as good as possible. However, some media and a few in Congress toughen their position with regards to China. For many people, the Chinese development is the main threat for US security.
We see how the center of gravity moves from the Atlantic to the Pacific. People often compare China’s rise with that of imperial Germany in crucial moments of the 19th and 20th centuries, but this is not the most accurate analysis. The difference between that model and what now happens in China is what separates Clausewitz from Sun Tzu: the military imperial dominance against the ideological control of the adversary. Unlike what happened in Europe early in the 20th century, nobody thinks he can defeat his rival in six months without suffering significant losses. In a globalized world - with nuclear weapons all around - nobody believes that there can be a winner if a war begins.
It is not possible to compare China and the Soviet Union either. The latter had a Russian tradition and had inherited the czars’ ambitions to dominate Europe. China has a history of 2000 years and does not want to dominate its neighbors. The containment policy used against the USSR during the Cold War does not apply in this reality. We should neither be obsessed with Chinese defense military spending. It is true that their military budget increases but it only represents 20% compared with that of the United States. It is also true that the situation of Taiwan could deteriorate but we must make efforts to keep this issue in the field of negotiations.
The best way to avoid China’s hegemony in Asia is cooperating with China. A hostile stance would lead China to trying to get Asia out of the US’s influence. In addition, China wants to cooperate with the United States to develop its economy. We would win nothing if we declare a Cold War against China and we would have the support of only a few countries. Nowadays, the behavior of countries is essential. Things could deteriorate if China seems to be trying to expel the United States from Asia or if the United States shows an imperial behavior.
" China: Containment Won’t Work " by Henry A. Kissinger, Washington Post, June 13, 2005.