Relations between the United States and China are at their lowest point since the 1970s. The superpowers are still highly integrated through trade and conflict remains unlikely, but what President Biden calls an “extreme competition” is well underway.
It comprises every domain of national power: economics, technology, geopolitics, an escalating arms race, and efforts to shape an evolving global system. The balance between the rivals is a top priority in nearly every national capital.
Neither Beijing nor Washington has a clear idea of where their competition is headed, how long it will last, or what it will cost. Biden and General Secretary Xi both face domestic pressures that drive them toward a more contentious relationship and prevent them from giving competition their full attention.
Three of Washington’s leading analysts provide insights into whether and how U.S.-China relations can be managed peacefully: J. Stapleton Roy, former U.S. ambassador to China, Singapore, and Indonesia; Amy P. Celico, principal and China director at the Albright Stonebridge Group and former senior director for China affairs at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; and Tong Zhao, visiting research scholar in the Science and Global Security Program, Princeton University, and senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Robert Daly, director of the Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, serves as moderator.