A Shifting Balance: Chinese Assessments Of U.S. Power

Part of Capacity and Resolve: Foreign Assessments of U.S. Power

Beijing’s assessment of the global balance of power, especially American power and the position of China vis-à-vis the United States, is a critical factor in Chinese foreign policy decisionmaking. As long as Chinese leaders perceive a long-lasting American preeminence—even in the face of a temporary decline—averting open confrontation with the United States will likely continue to define Chinese foreign policy. However, if Beijing were to conclude that the gap between Chinese and U.S. power was rapidly narrowing and represented a more enduring geopolitical shift, Chinese leaders might begin to challenge the United States more aggressively in order to take advantage of the opening and make gains on securing their core interests.

Bonnie S. Glaser