Balance, Not Containment: A Geopolitical Take from Canberra

It does not follow that if a policy of "engagement" has its problems, a policy of "containment" must be flawless. The language that has arisen to discuss U.S. China policy is itself seminally misleading.

Issue: Fall 1997

The pages of The National Interest have abounded in recent months
with analyses, prognostications, predictions, and arguments over what
to do with and about China. Robert Zoellick argued persuasively for
the need to rebuild a bipartisan consensus on U.S. policy toward
China, and both he and Paul Wolfowitz have urged that such a
consensus take as its touchstone the recognition that the problem is
one of accommodating the rise of a new power (the Wilhelmine Germany
analogy), and not that of containing an implacably hostile
imperialism (the Stalinist postwar Soviet Union analogy). It is hard
to deny, too, the good sense of recognizing the essential tension
between China's rush toward economic development and its ossified
political system, a tension that Henry S. Rowen and others maintain
will be resolved in the end in a relatively benign way, in favor of

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