February 27, 2017, 12:15 PM - 01:45 PM
China's Evolving Strategy in the Asia-Pacific: Implications for U.S. National Security
On February 27, 2017, the Robert Strauss Center and the Center for East Asian Studies were pleased to host Abraham Denmark, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia, for a discussion on the security challenges the US, India and other Asian countries face vis-à-vis China, as well as on the trajectory of U.S. policy toward China during the first hundred days of the Trump administration.
Mr. Denmark began his talk by emphasizing that China should be examined in the context of its own historical and philosophical backgrounds. Mr. Denmark mentioned President Xi Jinping's popular anti-corruption campaign and his goal for a great rejuvenation of China. As economic growth slows, President Xi's ambitious approach attempts to maintain legitimacy while expanding geopolitical power. His administration’s ability to manage China’s maritime and territorial disputes. however, remains to be seen.
According to Mr. Denmark, the main regional issues faced by China and President Xi's administration are Taiwan, the East and South China Sea, and North Korea. As a sensitive issue for China, Taiwan is classified as a domestic issue where the cross-strait dynamic is of interest to both Taipei and Beijing. In terms of maritime disputes, the East and South China Seas put China at odds with its neighbors in Southeast Asia, East Asia, and the international community in general. The United States finds the South China Sea to be of economic and military importance. In regards to the Korean Peninsula, given recent activity in North Korea--such as successful nuclear tests and several missiles tests--China seeks stability and hopes to avoid conflict in the peninsula.
The talk continued with Mr. Denmark's assertion that the United States-China relationship remains important, as evidenced by former President Obama's frequent interaction with Chinese leaders. The Trump administration so far has evoked mixed feelings from Chinese officials. The policies and actions of the administration toward China are still unclear and internally inconsistent. Nonetheless, the Trump administration will have to face potential maritime disputes in the South China Sea, maintaining alliances with Japan and South Korea, and the need to address the issue of Taiwan. The future of liberal international order has been embraced by China in a mixed but positive direction given the support shown for issues such as climate change. Mr. Denmark concluded that the United States cannot cede leadership to Beijing in the international arena, and must continue to maintain a relationship of cooperation despite geopolitical competition.
Photos of this event are available here.
Audio of this event is available here.
Video of this event is available here.
Abraham Denmark served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia (June 2015 – January 2017) where he supported the Secretary of Defense and other senior U.S. government leaders in the formulation and implementation of defense policy for China, Japan, Mongolia, North and South Korea, and Taiwan.
Previous positions include Senior Vice President for Political and Security Affairs at The National Bureau of Asian Research, Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, and several positions within the U.S. government. He has authored several reports and edited several books on geopolitical dynamics in the Asia-Pacific, and has been featured in major media outlets in the United States and across Asia.
Mr. Denmark was named a 21st Century Leader by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, and received an Award for Excellence from the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009.
A Colorado native, Mr. Denmark studied history and political science at the University of Northern Colorado, and earned a master's degree in international security from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He has also studied at China's Foreign Affairs College and Peking University.