A useful piece by David Shambaugh considers the direction of US-China relations under the Obama Administration.  Key points:

  • under Bush, the US had a dualistic approach: a China encouraged to be a responsible stakeholder, and a China to be hedged against.  The latter was pushed in particular by a ‘strong contingent’ within the Pentagon, and through appropriations, bureaucracy and programs, retains a significant amount of momentum.  
  • Obama’s policy thus far has been one generally of continuity.  But it emphasises strongly partnership with China, and downplays considerably the hedging strategy.  
  • The Administration is looking to ‘broaden the strategic partnership’ between the United States and China, with talk of a trilateral US-Japan-China dialogue and speculation of a regarding a number of initiatives to deepen the relationship, resolve outstanding issues and avoid conflict.


Shambaugh, D. (2009). Early Prospects of the Obama Administration’s Strategic Agenda with China. E-Notes, Foreign Policy Research Institute.