Smart Power in U.S.-China Relations
March 4, 2009
U.S.-China ties could have a greater impact on international affairs than any other relationship. Solving the world’s most serious issues—including global financial instability, proliferation and terrorism, climate change, and energy insecurity—is difficult to envision without joint action by Beijing and Washington. In today’s globalized world, transnational challenges require transnational solutions, especially by the most important states. U.S.-China partnership is indispensable for addressing many of the main challenges of the twenty-first century.
To foster a more cooperative relationship and reduce mutual tensions, Chinese and U.S. leaders must adopt a broader conception of their nation’s interests, one that includes advancing the global good as a joint means to realizing their country’s own national aims. China and the United States can almost always achieve their diverse economic, security, and other objectives more effectively through cooperative use of their smart-power resources—including diplomatic, economic, military, political, and cultural tools—rather than through unilateral action. The CSIS Commission on China examined smart-power opportunities for the U.S.-China relationship and in this report offers some recommendations. The proposals seek to help construct a new strategic framework for a cooperative U.S.-China relationship, anchored in the concept of smart power and employing clear, measurable, and enforceable goals.