Commentary: Xi Jinping will not want to jeopardise third term prospects with armed conflict over Taiwan

To meet this challenge, the United States will need to work ever more closely with its treaty allies and partners in AUKUS, the Quad, NATO, and Partners in the Blue Pacific, as well as raise its commercial and economic involvement in the Indo-Pacific.

Such a renewed American security and economic focus in the region must be accompanied by sustained efforts to engage China at all levels.

During this time of mistrust between the two powers, Washington and Beijing would be well advised to use former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s proposed model of managed strategic competition that establishes guardrails to the relationship for purposes of averting war and managing ties more effectively.

Essentially, Rudd’s idea is to create mutually observed red lines, establish communications protocols and to police these core areas of concern with regular high-level diplomacy.  

Going forward, crises will continue to arise between the US and China. How American and Chinese leaders handle this current Taiwan challenge is a test in this difficult chapter of Sino-American relations. Both sides need to demonstrate commitment to maintaining stability and developing shared understanding of each other’s doctrines.

Ted Gover, PhD, is Associate Clinical Professor at Claremont Graduate University.