Members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, September 2021
Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

As relations between the United States and China have spiraled down to a half-century low, a frightening new narrative has taken hold among some U.S. analysts and policymakers. It supposes that China’s window of opportunity to “reunify” Taiwan with the mainland—one of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s core foreign policy objectives—is closing rapidly, intensifying the pressure on Beijing to act swiftly and forcefully while it still has the chance.

This narrative rests on the belief that China’s rise is nearing its end. Unprecedented demographic decline, a heavy debt burden, uneven innovation, and other serious economic

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