In comparison to the more familiar sources of friction in U.S.-China relations--notably Taiwan and Tibet--surprisingly little attention has been given to how developments along China's unstable periphery could strain and even potentially cause a serious rupture in bilateral relations. Certainly, there has been no systematic effort to examine and compare the most likely cases or to consider how the latent risks can be lessened. As a general observation, scholars and analysts in both countries tend to focus on specific subregions rather than engage in crossregional comparative assessments. With the goal of encouraging a broader assessment of potential sources of friction in U.S-China relations and how they might be mitigated, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) embarked on this study, "Managing Instability on China's Periphery." Each paper considers current sources of instability, potential crisis triggers, U.S. and Chinese interests--where they converge and diverge--and policy options for preventing a major crisis and mitigating the consequences.
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Council on Foreign Relations
September 20, 2011
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