U.S. and Chinese warships played a dangerous game of chicken in the South China Sea this week, adding to the rising tensions over trade issues and allegations of Chinese meddling in U.S. elections. U.S.-China relations appear to be on shaky ground — but how will these tensions play out?
For political scientists, a big question in recent years is whether China will remain a firm partner in the “liberal international order” or become a “revisionist power,” one that will overturn existing institutions in pursuit of its global agenda. Many scholars believe that China’s membership in key security, economic and political institutions will limit its ambitions.
Others disagree. Earlier this year, the U.S. National Defense Strategy spelled out the growing concern “that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model.” True, Beijing has challenged established security institutions in the Asia-Pacific, contested territorial norms in the South China Sea and crafted alternative economic institutions, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Belt and Road Initiative. more