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A nation must think before it acts.
The enhancement of Chinese military power over the past decade is generating ample debate over its meaning and consequences for American security interests. China’s characterization in larger conceptions of U.S. national security strategy has experienced repeated shifts over the decades. China is now an arrived major power according to virtually all relevant power criteria, without U.S. policy makers conclusively resolving the implications of China’s military modernization for American security interests. Comparable uncertainties bedevil Chinese thinking about American military power. The latent elements of strategic rivalry (if not outright confrontation) are beyond dispute, and could readily take deeper root in the bureaucratic processes of both countries. Without leaders in both systems fully imparting and communicating to one another their respective strategic equities in Asia and the Pacific, the emergence of a reconfigured regional security order fully accepted by both states remains very uncertain.