Zuo Xiying, one of China’s top experts on international security, examines evolving U.S. deterrence strategies in light of rising strategic competition with China. He argues that the gap in conventional deterrence capabilities between China and the U.S. is rapidly narrowing owing to China’s technological and military advances and what he sees as the decline of the U.S. industrial base. As a “stress reaction” to this perceived decline, Zuo argues U.S. policymakers have begun to discuss declining American conventional deterrence capabilities vis-a-vis China more frequently. Zuo warns that Beijing should approach shifts in relative capabilities cautiously, and recognize that the U.S. is expanding its “toolbox” of mechanisms that can be leveraged flexibly to deter China, particularly in the case of heightened tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
Researchers at the PLA’s National University of Defense Technology examine the U.S. strategy of deterrence by denial against China since 2017, tracing developments across the Trump and Biden administrations and assessing likely impacts on China’s efforts to shape its regional security environment. The authors argue that while these strategies have “achieved some of the expected effects,” they will be constrained abroad by the security interests of regional U.S. partners and allies and domestically through disagreement among U.S. political parties and U.S. military branches about how to approach building denial capabilities.
Emphasis added throughout text by editors.