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The Corrections Needed in the U.S.-China Relationship

A China in the World Podcast

Stephen Hadley, former national security advisor to President George W. Bush, argues that the United States took false comfort in China’s hide-and-bide strategy and failed to recognize that China would increasingly assert itself as it became more comfortable operating in the international system. He argues the United States needs to be more realistic about how the U.S.-China relationship will proceed in the 21st century, calling for the United States to defend its values of democracy, human rights, and transparency and engage with China when such principles are not upheld. Failure to include China in the international system up to this point would have led China to build a competitive alternate system, based upon principles less congenial to U.S. standards, Hadley says. However, he claims that significant corrections need to be made to China’s role in the international system, such as addressing asymmetry in the economic relationship. Hadley says the Trump administration needs to establish a credible military alternative to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table and change the North Korean calculus about the dangers of keeping nuclear weapons. Discussing U.S. leadership more broadly, Hadley advocated for a realistic approach that strikes a balance between advancing U.S. ideals and accounting for the dangers posed by nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and other emerging security threats.