By: Matthew Kroenig and Jeffrey Cimmino

What is the kernel of the issue?

Amid a renewed era of US-China competition, many US allies and partners are worried that the United States will force them to choose between Washington and Beijing.  

Why is the issue important?

The United States is embarking upon building a set of overlapping coalitions among its democratic allies and partners to counter China’s threatening behavior. But many allies and partners are economically dependent on China. They will be reluctant to choose sides and, if forced on certain issues, they may even decide to side with Beijing.   

What is the recommendation?

The Biden administration should not force allies to choose sides. Indeed, Washington should not make such a stark choice itself. Instead, the United States should ask allies to join with it in a coordinated strategy to defend against China’s threatening behaviors in some areas, while facilitating continued engagement with China in other areas. Working together, US allies and partners should defend against and impose costs in response to the CCP’s military coercion, unfair trade practices, and human rights abuses. But they can work together to cooperate with Beijing in other areas–on the basis of fairness and reciprocity–including on matters of economic trade and investment.   

Related Experts: Matthew Kroenig and Jeffrey Cimmino