Foreign Policy

President Obama is very cautious in using military force. The transforming foreign policy strategy for the U.S. has been to share the cost of hegemony. For the United States, the main risk comes from the possibility of lacking confidence in U.S. strength among the allies and partners, but the strong leadership has reassured that the question is not whether the U.S. will lead, but how it will.

US-China-Russia-flags new

Not only do conflicts between U.S., China and Russia affect the world, their interdependence and occasional synergy also shapes world affairs. The U.S. and Russia still have an unstable relationship and could learn confidence building from the China-U.S. or China-Russia relationships.

China and the African Union are partnering to help create a more connected continental infrastructure which would assist the development of Africa by breaking away from colonial linkages and the fostering of intra-African trade and well as Pan-African identities. The signed agreement hasn’t specified the infrastructure development plan, but it could prove transformational.

Both the responses the next U.S. Defense Secretary gave to the Senate Armed Services Committee and the latest U.S. National Security Strategy adopt a benign tone regarding China. These documents generally affirm a desire to improve overall relations and continue China-U.S. defense exchanges even while seeking greater Chinese military transparency and the peaceful resolution of China’s maritime claims in the Pacific.

Susan Rice

The National Security Strategy Reports outlined the U.S. interests in the world, and was more cautious than the 2010 report in addressing sensitive topics for China, stressing that cooperation is beneficial for its national security. The U.S. still views China as a rival, though, and should keep with the global trend of common interest rather than zero-sum.


Rather than focusing on military containment, Obama made it clear that economic competition is a priority of the U.S. It isn’t entirely negative if China and the U.S. increase economic competition, with economic interdependence dictating increased pressure for economic and technological advancement and cooperation.

The recent announcement by the Pentagon to pause the expansion of mil-to-mil exchanges with China hearkens to the anachronistic Cold War attitudes of creating and dehumanizing an enemy. China and the U.S. will likely have disagreements related to overlapping issues, but the need for cooperation on mutual global issues is necessary to avoid reckless encounters.

I have watched carefully the evolution of China’s concept of a “New Type of Great Power Relationship.” This has been a core element of President Xi Jinping’s foreign policy towards the United States. I am a strong supporter of this concept.

America’s long-standing affront with North Korea needs fresh approaches, especially considering its increasingly disruptive international actions. Ted Carpenter proposes that instead of trying to increase unilateral sanctions on Pyongyang, Washington should make a concerted effort to reduce tensions with Kim Jong-un’s regime by creating a united front with China and Russia.

In his 2015 State of the Union, President Obama repeatedly mentioned China, made forceful proposals to improve the economy for the middle-class, and warned against any attempt to repeal his signature legislation and executive actions.

President Obama’s sixth State of the Union (SOTU) address was heavy on domestic policy and light on foreign policy. The president did not talk much about recent progress in the US-Chinese relations. Instead, he focused on the urgency to complete the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement – without China. There is a reason to the omission and the focus: the Obama White House is increasingly concerned over its legacy.

The recent State of the Union speech by President Obama didn’t underscore the critical importance of strengthened U.S. – Asia cooperation and engagement. Curtis Chin suggests that Obama could have more clearly clarified the Pivot to Asia, security issues in the South China Sea, and that increasingly America’s security and prosperity is linked to China and Asia.


By not emphasizing security differences with Beijing, President Barack Obama’s State-of-the-Union address made evident his general satisfaction with the success of his China policies.

China's rise

Chen Jimin explains the four principle aspects of China’s new approach to foreign policy, called “major-power diplomacy,” which entails agenda setting, strategy promotion, and flexibility.


The “Pivot to Asia” policy has been primarily driven by cold war and military conceptions of containing China’s rise. President Obama’s recent State of the Union speech kept with a distinctly American theme of soft-imperialism with mention of “writing the rules” to free trade agreements in Asia, instead of acknowledging China’s own sovereignty.

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