March 23, 2023

Washington, D.C. (March 20, 2017) — Since the end of World War II, the U.S. relationship with Japan has been the United States’ most important partnership in the Asia-Pacific region. Conversely, for most of that time, the United States’ relationship with China was comparatively insignificant. That is no longer the case.

The Center for American Progress has released a report on the steady elevation of relations with China that has been underway for the past quarter century and how it has affected the U.S.-Japan relationship. It calls on the United States to more effectively manage the interplay between its relations with the two regional giants to be able to maximize cooperation.

“There’s no mistaking that increasingly robust U.S.-China relations has caused consternation among Japanese allies,” said Brian Harding, CAP director for East and Southeast Asia and author of the report. “However, engagement with China is unavoidable. The smart approach is to have frank engagements with Tokyo to assuage concerns that the growing relationship with China will not undermine Japanese interests and to better manage the interplay between these two major nations.”

Developments in trilateral relations of the past few years offer lessons for ways the current administration can work with both partners in Asia. For instance, close U.S.-China coordination on climate change, while historic, caused concern among officials in Tokyo, and President Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric sowed enormous concern that the United States would sell out an ally for China. A clear strategic framework for relations with both nations that is built upon strong principles should be the focus of this administration early on.

Click here to read the report.

The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

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