Jul 24, 2020
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To explore what extended competition between the United States and China might entail out to 2050, the authors identified and characterized China's grand strategy, analyzed its component national strategies (diplomacy, economics, science and technology, and military affairs), and assessed how successful China might be at implementing these over the next three decades. China's central goals are to produce a China that is well governed, socially stable, economically prosperous, technologically advanced, and militarily powerful by 2050.
China has delineated specific objectives regarding economic growth, regional and global leadership in evolving economic and security architectures, and control over claimed territory. In several cases, these objectives bring China into competition, crisis, and even potential conflict with the United States and its allies. China's leaders clearly recognize this and have delineated and prioritized specific actors and actions as threats to the achievement of these objectives. With the United States, China seeks to manage the relationship, gain competitive advantage, and resolve threats emanating from that competition without derailing other strategic objectives (particularly those in the economic realm).
Preparing for a triumphant or ascending China seems most prudent for the United States because these scenarios align with current national development trends and represent the most-challenging future scenarios for the U.S. military. In both scenarios, the U.S. military should anticipate increased risk to already threatened forward-based forces in Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines and a loss of the ability to operate routinely in the air and sea space above and in the Western Pacific.
Grand Strategies for China
Framing the Future: Political Control and Social Stability
Rebalancing Diplomacy and Economics, Restructuring Science and Technology
Restructuring National Defense
Future Scenarios, Competitive Trajectories, and Implications