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Sino – American Conflict Essay, Research Paper


Write an essay utilizing the strategic perspective on the subject of

the probability of a Sino American conflict in the future.

The United States is the dominate international player of recent history. This position on the pinnacle of the power hierarchy graph is due to the vast national wealth and unmatched military prowess. This situation as the definitive hegemonic global entity allows the nation to define the status quo, select the rules of the international system and exert influence. However this role comes with the infinite burden of securing and enforcing the status quo. China is categorized as a great nation by the power hierarchy graph. This simply implies that they exert substantial influence in the international arena. China is also a rapidly developing nation, with the world s largest population and significant economic capabilities. The power transition theory suggests that a rapidly developing great nation poses a threat to the dominant nation. The theory states that a rapidly developing great nation becomes similar in power to the dominant nation the probability of conflict between the nations reaches its maximum value. However, conflict between the dominant nation, The United States, and the great nation, China, will never occur. This certain lack of conflict is due to each nation s strategic perspective, which proves that the estimated benefits of a conflict for either nation are far outweighed by the estimated costs, due to their vast military capabilities. The situation is similar to that of the cold war era, in which a conflict guaranteed both Russia and the United States Mutually Assured Destruction.

The strategic perspective defines a nation s actions by measuring domestic and international pressures as well as the preferences and perceptions that the nation holds. A conflict with China is the absolute last preference of The United States, as it already enjoys control of the international status quo. The United States desires the status quo above all else because any change could damage its position as dominate. It is argued that China as a great developing nation will, at a certain point, pose a significant enough threat to the status quo to provoke the United States to conflict. This idea would prove impossible based on the theories of uncertainty and war. The United States strategic perspective cites many examples for maintaining a friendly stance with China, and only one for entering in a conflict. The domestic influences, popular opinion and interest groups, would absolutely disagree with a conflict with China. Interest groups such as major corporations view China as a huge untapped market of consumers and cheap labor. For example, these corporations would ideally like to see the multiple billions of people in China drinking Coke, smoking American Spirit cigarettes and watching cable. Which would in turn create a booming economy, and security for the president and his party. In addition a trade association would foster good relations and communication between the two nations. As well as establish China as dependant to some extent on The United States economically, giving the dominant nation a degree of control over the development of the Chinese. Militarily a conflict with the Chinese would be disastrous for The United States leadership. As aforementioned a conflict between two military powers like the Chinese and the Americans is seen as mutually assured destruction. Which would be very unpopular amongst voters in a democracy. Internationally The United States is not strongly influenced by any nation. Its role as Dominant stipulates that it defines the rules of the international system. Thus the preferences created by The United States would look like this:

The status quo>

China acquiescing>negotiations>China capitulating>

USA acquiescing>USA capitulating>

USA declaring war>China declaring war

The United States above all else prefers the status quo, followed by China agreeing to US demands. Negotiations would be less preferable to the above, because it would mean that a conflict was narrowly escaped. In the event of a conflict the US would prefer China capitulating to the US acquiescing or capitulating. All of which would be far superior to war started by either party.

China s strategic perspective is subject to different domestic and international influences, but their system of preferences is similar to those of The United States. As China is a communist country its leadership does not share the same fear of angering a voting public. However, a dissatisfied populace can easily lead to a coup det at. Domestically China realizes its enormous economic potential, found in its population of billions. Thus domestically China is inspired by a desire to cultivate this potential. Internationally China feels the weight of many influences. China is the largest and one of the last communist holdouts in the world. The prospect of a conflict with The United States would be absolutely disastrous. The dominant United States is supports by its dominant bloc, consisting of NATO. This creates an impossible situation for the Chinese in the event of a conflict. NATO not only consists of the dominant United States but also many great power of the same caliber as China, such as England. Ideally China s preferences would seem as follows:

USA acquiesce>

negotiations>status quo>USA capitulating>

China acquiesce>China capitulating>

China declaring war>USA declaring war

Ideally China would prefer the USA to acquiesce over any other option, however the preferences above are unrealistic due to the countries relationships. Based on the current relationship with The United States and China s developing nature, its system of preferences may look like the following:

The status quo>

China acquiescing>negotiations>China capitulating>

USA acquiescing>USA capitulating>

China declaring war> USA declaring war

Given the current and foreseen nature of the relationship between China and The United States, China would prefer the status quo. Currently the international environment is/has allowed China to develop rapidly, China also holds The United States favored nation status for trade. Due to these circumstances the status quo is far more favorable than any conflict situation with The United States.

In view of the strategic perspectives of China and The United States the probability of a future conflict between these nations seems very highly unlikely. The uncertainty and war theories show that a conflict between The United States and China is nearly impossible. The theories outline these causes of conflict; conflict is a product of uncertainty about the intentions of other states. Uncertainty promotes war and certainty promotes negotiations or the status quo. a necessary condition for war is both sides believe their chances of winning are greater than 50%. The break up of long standing ties leads to uncertainty which leads to war. Each of these ideas points away from the idea of a Sino American conflict in the future, due to the nature of communication and information gathering between the two nations. The War and uncertainty graph describes that conflict only occurs at the most extreme levels of uncertainty about another nation s preferences. The power transition theory states that the possibility for a Sino American conflict would reach their highest when China saw the estimated benefits of conflict as greater than those of the status quo. Once again the dominant nature of The United States and its supporting bloc makes a situation where China s estimated benefits of conflict as greater than those of the status quo. The estimated benefits will never outweigh the possibility of a world war. Given the nature of each nation s strategic perspectives and the current power hierarchy there are no signs pointing towards a Sino American conflict anywhere in the near future.

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