In This Review

"Posing Problems Without Catching Up: China's Rise and Challenges for U.S. Security Policy."
"Posing Problems Without Catching Up: China's Rise and Challenges for U.S. Security Policy."
By Thomas J. Christensen
International Security, Vol. 25, No. 4 (spring 2001), pp. 5-40, , pp.
The United States and Asia: Toward a New U.S. Strategy and Force Posture
The United States and Asia: Toward a New U.S. Strategy and Force Posture
By Zalmay Khalilzad, David T. Orletsky, Jonathan D. Pollack, Ke
RAND, 2001, 260 pp.

Christensen offers perhaps the most balanced and sophisticated appraisal currently available -- at least in open sources -- of the real security challenge that China poses to U.S. interests in East Asia. Well informed by Chinese sources, he argues that China does not need to catch up to America's military power to have some formidable military options for achieving limited political objectives. Misreading the lessons of Somalia and Kosovo, Chinese analysts have become scornful of America's seeming unwillingness to accept casualties in a real fight. Christensen suggests that the United States clearly state the circumstances under which it will defend Taiwan and do more to make good on those commitments. That advice is echoed in the rand volume, which focuses more on Asia as a whole. It calls on the United States to strengthen its alliances with Japan, South Korea, and Australia and create a strong framework for multilateral cooperation. The rand work was done for the U.S. Air Force, and the analysts convincingly explain that the United States does not have the bases it needs in the right places to be able to defend the Taiwan Strait. Put the Christensen and rand works together, and the message for U.S. policy is very disturbing.