Former US Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis C. Blair examines the changing role of China in the international system and the challenge it poses for policy makers. He highlights in this Centre of Gravity paper how China's concerns about Taiwan are reducing, while its regional assertiveness and economic slowdown provide some caution. This paper presents policy recommendations for Australia and the US to better evaluate and engage China to help secure the Asia-Pacific Region.

Executive summary

  • 5 years after a major report on US-China relations it’s worth revisiting our assessments.
  • Most judgements remain valid, but some have changed significantly.
  • Taiwan has moved from a primary issue to second order, though not forgotten.
  • China’s regional assertiveness is concerning and should be examined closely.
  • China’s economic development model has run its course; Beijing needs to provide leadership to usher in reform.

Policy recommendations

Australia and the USA should focus on a blended policy of cooperation with China, along with an insistence on international norms, and maintenance of alliance and military strength. Regular evaluations of China’s shifting capacity and interests, to identify what issues are of rising or declining significance for Beijing will be needed to be effective in engaging China and building a better future for the region.

Publication Details