How should the United States respond to China’s new level of assertiveness in the Asia Pacific? In the past few months as Beijing has stepped up territorial claims around China’s maritime borders—and in the skies above them—the Obama administration has moved to soothe tensions, cool tempers and slow momentum toward potential conflict. In the January/February issue of Foreign PolicyElbridge Colby and Ely Ratner of the Center for a New American Security argue that when the U.S. plays peacemaker it encourages China to raise the stakes, pursuing ever greater levels of adventurism with the confidence that Washington will step in and make sure things don’t get truly out of hand. “China is taking advantage of Washington’s risk aversion by rocking the boat,” they write, “seeing what it can extract in the process and letting the United States worry about righting it.” Instead, they conclude, the U.S. ought to pursue a military and diplomatic strategy that includes lowering its tolerance of provocations at sea, deepening military ties with Japan, and building stronger alliances with other countries in the region “to inject a healthy degree of risk into Beijing’s calculus, even as it searches for ways to cooperate with China.” We asked ChinaFile Contributors to respond. —The Editors


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