US-Sino Relations: A Cool, Not A Cold, War
US And China: The Dawn Of A Cool War
“The United States is still the sole reigning superpower, but it is being challenged by the rising power of China, just as ancient Rome was challenged by Carthage, and Britain was challenged by Germany in the years before World War I,” Noah Feldman writes in Foreign Policy.
Rather than embarking on a new Cold War, Feldman says policymakers and diplomats need to determine how the US proceeds in its relations with Beijing – a relationship he defines as more of a “cool war.”
He says the term Cool War aims to capture the “classic struggle for power between two countries” that is simultaneously unfolding at a time “that economic cooperation between them is becoming deeper and more fundamental.”
US Needs To Develop New Approach To China
“What we need is to change the way we think and talk about the U.S.-China relationship — to develop an alternative to simple images of inevitable conflict or utopian cooperation. We need a way to understand the new structure that draws on historical precedent while recognizing why things are different this time. We need to understand where the United States and China can see eye to eye and where they cannot compromise. Most of all, we need a way forward to help avoid the real dangers that lie ahead,” Feldman contends.
US Naval Supremacy May Be An Old Storyline
Toshi Yoshihara and James Holmes take issue with the assumption among analysts that America retains naval supremacy over China.
They contend that the force has been depleted because the Navy has “spent the past decade supporting ground forces rather than girding to duel enemy armadas” and “guided-missile destroyers have been burdened with an ever wider array of missions, including ballistic-missile defense (BMD).”
They conclude: “In effect, then, the service has demoted war at sea, the raison d’être for any navy, to secondary status. Both the hardware (weaponry, sensors, and hulls) and the software (training and exercises) for sea control have doubtless suffered as a result. In an era of tight budgetary constraints, reversing two decades of steady decline in surface warfare will be neither easy nor quick. In short, prevailing assumptions about American naval supremacy are coming under strain.”
China’s Increasing Power Still Pales In Comparison With US
Given the secrecy that surrounds China’s military, it is not surprising that others view the threat posed by Beijing’s increased military expenditures differently.
Antony Funnell of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation says there is a tendency to portray “every Chinese military development as further proof of an imminent Sino threat to America’s global hegemony,” a portrayal that is more myth than fact.
US Maintains Technological Advantage
Funnell cites analysis by Dr. Sam Perlo Freeman from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), who holds the belief that US naval supremacy may be declining but their “overwhelming lead is not going to change in a hurry.”
Furthermore, while the gap in expenditures is shrinking, the gap is much larger in terms of “the capabilities of the armed forces of both nations is also significant.”
‘The United States has 11 aircraft carriers, fully fledged with full battle groups around them. The Chinese have one which is largely a training platform decades behind in technology and they’ve just started building another. So again, the technological capability gap is closing, but it is considerably larger even than the military spending gap,” Freeman says.