On January 21, the American Security Project hosted an event titled “Addressing the China Challenge – A Conversation with the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.” Commission Chairman Carolyn Bartholomew and Vice Chairman Dr. Robin Cleveland joined ASP CEO Patrick Costello to discuss the Commission’s 2021 report to Congress on economic, political, and security developments in the U.S.-China relationship.
The panel opened by addressing how the China debate in Washington has evolved over the last few decades. Both Chairman Bartholomew and Dr. Cleveland attested to the emergence of a bipartisan consensus on the threats China poses to U.S. economic and national security—the dualist frame of China hawk versus dove has largely dissolved.
The Chair and Vice-Chair then discussed the prospects for a conflict over Taiwan, the cross-strait military balance, and how the how the PLA’s capabilities have evolved. Later in the event, the panelists explored what triggers might prompt Chinese annexation of Taiwan and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decision-making process on a Taiwan contingency.
Climate change has emerged as a potential area for U.S.-China cooperation. Chairman Bartholomew and Dr. Cleveland addressed the prospects for bilateral cooperation, the challenges for China meeting climate-related commitments, and the environmental degradation within China and their growing environmental crisis.
Panelists also discussed China’s internal challenges and weaknesses; how China is seeking to reshape international and multilateral institutions, especially standard setting bodies; China’s expanding influence in Latin American and Africa; and the national security risks of increased U.S.-China financial connectivity.