11th US-China Strategic Dialogue

Hosted by Naval Postgraduate School, Pacific Forum, and CACDA

June 17-18, 2019

Maui, Hawaii

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Strategic Issues in an Era of Great Power Relations and Competition

What are the main sources of current tensions in the US-China relationship?  Are these likely to endure over the next decade?  How do they compare to other periods of tension among great powers?  How does each side see strategic weapons and systems contributing to its own security in this era?  How might current tensions affect the strategic nuclear arena?  How can both sides work to manage this competition and prevent it from escalating into a more adversarial relationship or conflict?  Are there important opportunities for cooperation between the two? 

Moderator: Christopher Twomey

Presenters: Evan Montgomery and Col. Lu Yin

 

Evolving U.S. Nuclear Strategy and the 2018 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review

What are the main changes and updates in the 2018 NPR with regard to nuclear and other strategic systems? (…recalling that missile defense issues will be primarily discussed in a different panel.) How are these being implemented since the report was issued?  Is there domestic consensus within the United States regarding this policy?  How do these changes affect global, regional, and bilateral stability in strategic affairs (low yield warheads? Discussions of “extreme circumstances”? Other changes?)? How would the continuation or ending of New START affect the likely future trajectory of these trends?

Moderator: Li Chijiang

US Presenter: Linton Brooks

Chinese Discussant: Li Bin

 

Chinese Nuclear Policy/Posture (and US Concerns)

What has driven China to develop SSBNs, modernize its land-based forces, and move towards a “strategic role” for the PLA-AF?  How do these (and other) changes enhance deterrence for China?  How are they integrated?  Do they have an effect on stability (that is, dangers in co-mingling conventional and nuclear forces?  In deployment patterns of SSBNs?  Other effects, positive or negative)? Are there important discussions (or debates) within China about those changes?  How are the PLA reforms begun in 2015 changing the way strategic systems are viewed as tools for the national defense?  Do the organizational changes of the PLA-RF and -SSF imply an increased role for these systems?  How would US and Russian actions if New START were to not be renewed affect Chinese thinking on these issues?

Moderator: David Santoro

Chinese Presenter: Wu Riqiang

US Discussant: Eric Heginbotham

 

MDR and Chinese MD/Responses to US MD

How are both sides’ deployment of missile defense systems changing?  What are the important drivers of these changes? How does each side view the changes that the other is undertaking?   Does technology play an independent role in driving change, or are political and strategic factors overriding? How are changes with regard to the space domain in particular affecting this area?  What are the prospects for multilateral CSBMs in this area?

Moderator: Zhou Chang

Presenters: Wu Chunsi and Elaine Bunn

 

Post INF Era: Challenges and Opportunities

Why did the United States withdraw from INF, and how important was Asia in this decision?  What sorts of weapons and postures may be deployed and how will those affect the United States’ ability to defend its and its security partners’ interests?  What are Chinese views about this withdrawal and the resulting deployments?  What are the impediments to trilateral or multilateral arms control in this area?  Are there opportunities for other CSBMs in this area? 

Moderator: Michael Glosny

Presenters: Michael Elliott and S. Col. Zhao Weibin

 

Roundtable “Possible Solutions to Regional Nuclear Situations” 

If some significant conflict erupted between the United States and China in East Asia, how dangerous would the prospect of escalation be?  Are there particular escalatory dangers that arise in contemporary, conventional maritime conflict?  Are there specific nuclear escalatory dangers? Are there specific factors in the posture or practices in either the United States’ or China’s military that exacerbate these (lack of separation between nuclear and conventional forces and/or their command and control systems?  Low yield weapons? Etc.)? That is, what does each side see as inherently destabilizing in the other side’s capabilities and deployment patterns?

Facilitators: Profs. Twomey and Wu Rigiang

 

Wrap-Up: Implications and Ways Forward

What are the main lessons of this dialogue’s session? What are the best ways to engage these issues at the track 1/official level?  (What issues are best left for track 2/unofficial?)  Given the difficulty in getting participants to attend this year’s meeting, what are the best ways to continue these discussions?  Are they worth pursuing?

Moderator: Prof. Twomey

Amb. Linton Brooks, Amb. Zhang Yan, and entire group of participants