The self-reinforcing logic of Sino-US competition May 2023

Publication: The Looking Glass

In this issue, Michael Clarke and Matthew Sussex consider the current state of strategic competition between the United States and China.

The self-reinforcing logic of great power competition is one of the closest things to an empirical law in security studies. Hence, the increasing divide between China and the US should not come as a surprise. But this leads to two important questions: how will they eventually seek to manage their competition, and what should other states – like Australia – with keen stakes in how that plays out try to respond? 

It is clear that, for the foreseeable future, both Beijing and Washington perceive their relationship to be defined by competition rather than cooperation. However, there have been sporadic indications both states are seeking to identify new ‘guard rails’ with which to establish a form of strategic stability, even as they compete with one another. 



Michael Clarke
Matthew Sussex