China and the U.S. Are Long-term Enemies

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Is China’s ascendancy a threat to the U.S.? China’s rise as an economic and military power, coupled with its aggression in the South China Sea, have led some to call for a major rebalance of U.S. policy and strategy. Can China be trusted to act as a responsible global stakeholder? And will they be a long-term ally, or adversary?

  • PeterBrookes 90px


    Peter Brookes

    Sr. Fellow, The Heritage Foundation

  • JohnMearsheimer90px


    John Mearsheimer

    Professor of Political Science, U. of Chicago

  • Robert Daly 90px


    Robert Daly

    Director, Kissinger Institute on China & the U.S.

  • Kevin-Rudd 90px


    Kevin Rudd

    Former Prime Minister, Australia

    • Moderator Image


      John Donvan

      Author & Correspondent for ABC News

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PeterBrookes 90px

For The Motion

Peter Brookes

Sr. Fellow, The Heritage Foundation

Peter Brookes is a senior fellow for national security affairs at the Heritage Foundation’s Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy. He is also serving his fourth term as a congressionally appointed member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Brookes previously served in the administration of President George W. Bush as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific affairs, responsible for U.S. defense policy for 38 countries and five bilateral defense alliances in Asia. Prior to this, he was a professional staff member with the House International Relations Committee, served with the CIA and the State Department at the UN, and worked in private-sector defense and intelligence industries. A decorated Navy veteran and a retired commander, Brookes served on active duty in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East in aviation and intelligence billets.

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For The Motion

John Mearsheimer

Professor of Political Science, U. of Chicago

John Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and the co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1982. He graduated from West Point in 1970, served five years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, and then held fellowships at the Brookings Institution, Harvard University's Center for International Affairs, and the Council on Foreign Relations. Mearsheimer has written extensively about security issues and international politics more generally. He has published five books, including Conventional Deterrence (1983), The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001), and Why Leaders Lie: The Truth about Lying in International Politics (2011). He has also written many articles for both academic and popular publications, including International Security, Foreign Affairs, London Review of Books, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times.

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Robert Daly 90px

Against The Motion

Robert Daly

Director, Kissinger Institute on China & the U.S.

Robert Daly has directed the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Wilson Center since 2013. He came to the Wilson Center from the University of Maryland. Prior to that, he was American director of the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies. Daly began work in U.S.-China relations as a diplomat, serving as cultural exchanges officer at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He has taught at Cornell and Syracuse University and has worked on television and theater projects in China as a host, actor, and writer. Daly has lectured at scores of Chinese and American institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution, the East-West Center, the Asia Society, PACOM, and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. He has lived in China for 11 years and has interpreted for Chinese and Americans, including Jiang Zemin, Yu Zhengsheng, Jimmy Carter, and Henry Kissinger.

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Kevin-Rudd 90px

Against The Motion

Kevin Rudd

Former Prime Minister, Australia

Kevin Rudd served as Australia’s 26th prime minister (2007-10, 2013) and foreign minister (2010-12). In addition to leading many global and regional foreign-policy initiatives, he was a driving force in expanding the East Asia Summit to include both the U.S. and Russia. In January 2015, Rudd became the inaugural president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, a “think-do tank” dedicated to using second-track diplomacy to assist governments and businesses in resolving policy challenges within Asia, and between Asia and the West. He is chair of the Independent Commission on Multilateralism, a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he completed a major policy paper U.S.-China 21: The Future of U.S.-China Relations Under Xi Jinping, a visiting professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s China Council. He also established the Asia Pacific Community Foundation to promote the cause of regional economic, security, and environmental collaboration.

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Declared Winner: Against The Motion

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    • Comment Link Traaxx Wednesday, 04 May 2016 19:31 posted by Traaxx

      The result here clearly show why Americans have so much trouble dealing with international affairs. If you can't buy it we're out of luck. Jewelry often say Americans are not critical thinkers and the result here clearly show that. Wishful thinking about China, which has already swallowed Tibet and have refused to even talk about Tibet, that alone should show how Imperialist China is, Vietnam can clearly testify to their Imperialist ambitions.

      While this is 20/20 hindsight, the current conflict in the Asian South Seas, where China has contravened all international law by building artificial islands and using them to make their claim to the area.

      Manage the relationship, that's what the wishful thinkers, the weed thinkers say. This implies that we are superior to the Chinese and can manipulate, from where I see the landscape we've built up their economy, we've built their military. Who really controls our country the poor voters or a Communist China that buys our land, businesses and politicians.


    • Comment Link jieming Monday, 23 November 2015 13:15 posted by jieming

      Brucek. i think China don't aggression it will not any country and China hasn't thousand years history aggression the any other country only war civil. “why” because China have manager long years the economy and it can't going to war and don't want to war. Brucek you don't know you don't understand China..... it U.S.A create the war syria. U.S.A like make the superman, has wrong command west country going to africa make the war, and china don't have got war in africa and asia. philippine soldiers sea got kill chinese people, china has not counterattack.

    • Comment Link BruceK Sunday, 22 November 2015 01:49 posted by BruceK

      This is clearly doing to fail as a resolution, because this is a national broadcast, and it is simply bad politics and diplomacy to have it out that China and the US are long-term enemies, even if they are. And, of course they are.

      China as a people are something that we have a hard time to see in the US, since we are trying to get past our racism and we have not had the humiliations has a people and in history that China has.

      China has a deep seated identity that they are not going to give up. Their population is so massive that it has a kind of inertia that I don't think can be overcome before hostilities are likely to come about.

      Why else would China build up such a military? It is clear the US is bending over backwards to to try do business and achieve a kind of cultural rapprochement, while China sits in a place where they view the rest of the world as inferior.

      This is a very interesting debate, but again, it has to end that we have hope that China and the US will NOT be enemies.

    • Comment Link RLee Sunday, 25 October 2015 15:56 posted by RLee

      This was a great debate.

      The path of the US to become the world's superpower is not necessarily that of the other countries. The problem with the US politicians is that they always expect other nations to follow the US rules and pathway, just like they expect these countries to become rich and "democratic" as the US, i.e. economic development and "vote" - the only democratic symbol. The world is big enough to have diverse forms of nations to co-exist.

      The loser side very much sounds the cold war ideologists - sad part in the US diplomacy, as this type of international relations advisers play a bigger role.

      The debate has also shown that the social scientists whom have been supported by the big uni. funding are living so far away from the real life. They must have too much time and money to live in a dream to just predict what the future will be.

    • Comment Link Easton Smith Friday, 23 October 2015 00:13 posted by Easton Smith

      Nuclear deterrence was uttered one time in this debate, offhand, as if it was a pawn in a chess game rather than the game changer it is.

      I have trouble comprehending how mutual nuclear deterrence was not a central topic in this debate.

      A conflict with China will not be WW3.

      A conflict with China could however, be the Cold War number 2.

    • Comment Link Kai Wang Tuesday, 20 October 2015 10:48 posted by Kai Wang

      If you want China to be your enemins, they are going to be, if you
      want this country to be you a long-term ally, they also could be. this
      is Chinese 5000 year's culture!

    • Comment Link Ryan Thursday, 15 October 2015 15:09 posted by Ryan

      1. How would China-born scholars answer this question if they could speak freely? Were there attempts made to host China-born scholars?

      2. The speakers used entirely too much jargon, i.e. "Realpolitik", "peer competitor", and likely alienated some audience members without explaining these terms.

    • Comment Link Patrick Cronin Wednesday, 14 October 2015 12:07 posted by Patrick Cronin

      Competition is inevitable, conflict is not. China is seeking to expand its positive control over maritime, air, cyber space, and outer space domains, but it is not spoiling for a war, especially with the United States. Unfortunately, despite being economically intertwined, China has some fundamental divergences from the United States when it comes to regional and global order. The United States must remain strong and vigilant to stand up for its national interests, but we should not do so in a manner that unnecessarily provokes or creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    • Comment Link David Monday, 12 October 2015 06:11 posted by David

      Despite the great firewall of China blocking sites like google, facebook, youtube, instagram, etc; it seems like China is aligning itself with Western values. So many young Chinese are learning English (as far as I know every Chinese high school student wishing to attend university must do well on English tests). US Hollywood blockbusters are popular there, so if they are already so Western then how could they be seriously at odds with the US?

      I realize that state control of media is troublesome but how long can the Chinese government really control it with the internet becoming more pervasive all the time? I would think the Chinese population is becoming more exposed to the stories which are critical of the ruling party and slowly this worrying totalitarianism will fade.

      Yes, China may be getting more wealthy but isn't that a stabilizing force for a country with such a huge population in poverty? If everyone is poor then civil unrest will develop which could bring a more extreme and aggressive leader to the front.

    • Comment Link bruce k. Tuesday, 08 September 2015 09:59 posted by bruce k.

      What I hope is that China recognizes it valid concerns about historically being treated poorly, and that is what they are reacting against.

      What I fear is that China has a big chip on its shoulder due to that poor historical treatment, and that this chip can easily get out of control as it has in many countries who talk about regaining their historical stature and respect in the world.

      When I look around the world, being a biased American I have a perception that faulty and in need of improvement as our American system is that it makes a better model for how people should live than China, Russia or any Islamic Caliphate.

      What concerns me about the US is that we seem to be losing our cultural identity to money, both foreign and domestic to a global oligarchy that has no respect of love for American culture and in fact much of it seeks to drag America down to the level below the Western norm for a developed country. So, that makes it hard to know how hard to press the American system.

      China, Russia and the Islamic power block all have problems orders of magnitudes worse than the West's, but how can we criticize them when we have failed to live up to our ideals and seem to be converging with them?

      The world cannot bear more of these human conflicts and wars. From being almost a science fiction worry as a kid for me, we have pushed our system to the point where we threaten life on the planet. It is time to be driven by intelligence, logic and survival before these foolish competitive destructive competitions.

      I do not understand the nature of the Chinese military buildup, it seems to me a first glance to be offensive because of the belligerence of China with regard to Japan and Taiwan. China scares me, and I wonder what if any metrics we have as to when this building becomes too big a threat to handle and what do we do directly before that?

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