The U.S. Was Late to China’s Rise 20 Years Ago. What Is It Missing Today?

The U.S. Was Late to China’s Rise 20 Years Ago. What Is It Missing Today?
Chinese naval cadets march in formation at Tiananmen Square, in Beijing, Sept. 30, 2019 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

In 1998, during a year at the University of Hawaii on a language fellowship as I prepared for a career shift from West Africa to East Asia, I sat in a darkened room one afternoon to take in a briefing about big, looming changes in the western Pacific. The scholar who made the presentation used a projector to dramatic effect as he argued that in the decades ahead, it was almost certain that China—then very far from a peer competitor with the United States, whether in military or economic terms—would eventually make it impossible for American aircraft carriers to operate […]

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