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The Obama administration has responded to Chinese assertiveness by reinforcing U.S. military and diplomatic links to the Asia-Pacific, to much acclaim at home and in the region. But the “pivot” is based on a serious misreading of its target. China remains far weaker than the United States and is deeply insecure. To make Beijing more cooperative, Washington should work to assuage China’s anxieties, not exploit them.
Never popular at home, Taiwan's independence movement has suffered successive electoral defeats and is increasingly irrelevant. The movement's demise and the rise of politicians promising greater cooperation with Beijing have removed the only plausible cause of war between China and the United States.
There is no "China threat," not because China is a benign giant but because it is too weak to challenge the balance of power. China can damage U.S. interests, but it does not require containment. The most striking aspect of Chinese foreign policy is its effort to promote stability. Indeed, China is easier to deal with today than ever before. The United States needs a policy to contend with China's ability to destabilize Asia, not a policy to deal with a future hegemon. China is a revisionist power, but for the foreseeable future it will seek to maintain the status quo-and so should the United States.