“Alternative” Strategic Perceptions in U.S.-China Relations

Discussion Paper | May 18, 2017

The EastWest Institute has released a new report on U.S.-China relations—"Alternative” Strategic Perceptions in U.S.-China Relations.

The report lays out the differing strategic perceptions of the United States and China with respect to some of the most topical and challenging issues on the U.S.-China agenda today. These starkly differing perceptions inform and exacerbate actual policy and fuel mistrust and broad mutual strategic suspicion.

By exposing the diverging perceptions of the two countries and bringing those perceptions into the fabric of bilateral discourse more explicitly and honestly, this report creates the basis for a more honest, substantive, constructive, fruitful and mutually beneficial dialogue.


In the first hundred days of his tenure in the White House, President Donald Trump has had to devote considerable attention to the United States’ single most consequential bilateral partner:  China. 

The issues currently on the U.S.-China agenda share several commonalities: they are top-tier issues that garner presidential attention in both the United States and China; they are contentious, in the U.S.-China context, to the point of raising the prospect of direct conflict (e.g., a hot war or a “trade war”) between the United States and China; and they represent enduring, and seemingly intractable, challenges. These issues also share another less obvious commonality: they are issues where the U.S.-China perceptual divide is as much a part of the problem as the actual interests or policies in question. 

Key Issues Addressed:

  • The U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific 
  • The stability of the Korean peninsula, including specifically, the deployment of the THAAD system
  • U.S. reconnaissance operations in the Asia-Pacific region
  • Disputes in the East and South China Seas
  • Cross-strait relations
  • Cybersecurity 

The full report is available here.