For the past few decades, Chinese scholars, pundits, and diplomats have often falsely accused the United States of adopting a “cold war mentality” toward China. They usually level these accusations when Washington enhances the U.S. military’s position in Asia or bolsters the military capabilities of its allies and partners in East Asia.
It is true that in the post–Cold War era, the United States and its allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific have been engaged in a strategic competition in the military sphere with China, which has been modernizing its forces and increasing their power projection capabilities. Thus far, the United States has successfully deterred mainland China from settling its many sovereignty disputes in the East China Sea, in the South China Sea, and across the Taiwan Strait through the use of force. It is also true that the United States and its closest allies have banned the sale of weapons and have tried to limit the transfer of certain military technologies to China.
There Will Not Be a New Cold War The Limits of U.S.-Chinese Competition By Thomas J. Christensen March 24, 2021
Thomas J. Christensen is Professor of Public and International Affairs and Director of the China and the World Program at Columbia University. He arrived in 2018 from Princeton University where he was William P. Boswell Professor of World Politics of Peace and War, Director of the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program, and faculty director of the Masters of Public Policy Program and the Truman Scholars Program. From 2006-2008 he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs with responsibility for relations with China, Taiwan, and Mongolia. His research and teaching focus on China’s foreign relations, the international relations of East Asia, and international security. His most recent book, The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power (W.W. Norton) was an editors’ choice at the New York Times Book Review, a “Book of the Week” on CNN”s Fareed Zakaria GPS, and the Arthur Ross Book Award Silver Medalist for 2016 at the Council on Foreign Relations. Professor Christensen has also taught at Cornell University and MIT. He received his B.A. with honors in History from Haverford College, M.A. in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania, and Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University. He has served on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, as co-editor of the International History and Politics series at Princeton University Press, and as a member of the Academic Advisory Committee for the Schwarzman Scholars Program. He is currently the Chair of the Editorial Board of the Nancy B. Tucker and Warren I. Cohen Book Series on the United States in Asia at Columbia University Press. Professor Christensen is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Non-Resident Senior Scholar at the Brookings Institution. He was presented with a Distinguished Public Service Award by the United States Department of State.