Handbook on the United States in Asia
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Handbook on the United States in Asia

Managing Hegemonic Decline, Retaining Influence in the Trump Era

Edited by Andrew T.H. Tan

The centre of gravity in today’s global economy arguably now resides in Asia. As a result of this, the maintenance of geopolitical and economic security in Asia has become pivotal to global stability. This indispensable Handbook examines the crucial and multifaceted role of the United States as a force in the region that has been, and continues to be, necessary for the continuation of Asian prosperity.
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Chapter 18: Managing U.S.–China rivalry in East Asia

Jingdong Yuan


The rise of China and Beijing’s assertive foreign policy under Xi Jinping are fundamentally changing the geopolitical landscape in the Indo-Pacific. Specifically, a more confident China is perceived in Washington as destined to challenge U.S. supremacy in the region for the past seven decades. The Thucydides Trap, as the emerging rivalry between a rising power and the reigning one, carries significant risks in that failure of conflict management could well result in major clashes between the two countries and, as a consequence, place regional peace and stability in peril. This chapter reviews a range of areas where Sino–U.S. rivalry exists and analyses the likely scenarios and policy options for both Washington and Beijing. It argues that U.S.–China rivalry can take a number of different forms, not all of which would end in military confrontation, with the exception of Western Pacific where the two militaries are engaging in growing overlapping and close-range encounters. Both powers recognize the stakes and are making efforts to manage their differences and minimize the impact of conflicts.

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