Courtesy Reuters

Policymakers in Washington have long split between those who believe China will inevitably threaten vital U.S. interests -- and thus needs to be isolated or contained -- and those who think a nonadversarial relationship is still possible if pursued through greater engagement. People on both sides of the debate, however, share a seriously flawed understanding of how Chinese leaders view the United States. According to conventional wisdom, Beijing's behavior toward Washington is driven by factional politics within the Chinese leadership. This assumption, however, is misguided and even dangerous. It misrepresents the Chinese political spectrum, overlooks the more fundamental sources

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