China, America, and the Pivot to Asia

28 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2013

Date Written: January 8, 2013


Despite the United States’ focus on the Middle East and the Islamic world for the past decade, the most important international political developments in the coming years are likely to happen in Asia. The Obama administration has promoted a “pivot to Asia,” away from the Middle East and toward the Asia-Pacific. The main factor driving Washington’s interest in the region is the growing economic and military power of the People’s Republic of China. Accordingly, this analysis focuses heavily on the implications of China’s growing power and influence. This paper has three sections. First, it sketches the two main schools of thought about China’s rise and examines the way in which Washington’s China policy combines elements of those two theories. The second section critiques both theories of China’s rise and argues that U.S. policy combines them in a way that puts a dangerous contradiction at the heart of America’s China policy. The final section recommends offloading responsibility for hedging against potential Chinese aggression to likeminded countries in the region and shows that those countries are capable of doing so.

Keywords: U.S.-China relations, Sino-American relations, American Foreign Policy, East Asia, pivot to Asia, rebalancing, military strategy, engagement, foreign affairs, containment, Chinese power, China superpower

JEL Classification: F50, F51, F52

Suggested Citation

Logan, Justin, China, America, and the Pivot to Asia (January 8, 2013). Cato Institute Policy Analysis No. 717, Available at SSRN:

Justin Logan (Contact Author)

Cato Institute ( email )

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