23 July 2012

CMSI ‘Red Book’ #9: “Not Congruent but Quite Complementary: U.S. and Chinese Approaches to Nontraditional Security”

Lyle J. Goldstein, ed., Not Congruent but Quite Complementary: U.S. and Chinese Approaches to Nontraditional Security, Naval War College China Maritime Study 9 (July 2012).

This edited volume is unique in several respects, and not only because it offers both Chinese and American perspectives side by side. First and foremost, the assembled papers offer a glimpse into the rapidly developing and wide-ranging Chinese-language discussion about non-traditional security (NTS) issues and their role in Beijing’s future foreign policy. A plethora of Chinese citations attest to the careful efforts that have been made to synthesize this important literature, heretofore largely inaccessible to Western scholars. In addition, the volume includes both the views of policy insiders and also the ideas of individuals outside of government. Indeed, many of the authors do not shy away from challenging current policies. What this volume is not is a rote recitation of “happy talk.” The analyses are clear-eyed about certain limits with respect to NTS capabilities and sensitive regarding the implications of certain divergent views on NTS issues for the bilateral relationship overall. The assembled papers broadly assess the full scope of the bilateral NTS rela­tionship and simultaneously dive deeply into crucial case studies, in such vital areas as counterpiracy and peacekeeping. Finally, as befits the work of an institute focused on maritime studies, there is a distinct focus on maritime issues, including a chapter on maritime counterterrorism, without ignoring key developments ashore that are crucial components to addressing any NTS challenges and to furthering the bilateral relation­ship as a whole.

A strong consensus at the conference and among the chapters that follow emerges that new Chinese interest in and capabilities for NTS operations offer a vital strategic op­portunity to enhance U.S.-China security cooperation. The chapters also reveal that while American and Chinese viewpoints on NTS issues are hardly congruent, they are surprisingly complementary. It is therefore hoped that this volume will help to build the foundation of a more cooperative pursuit of Chinese and American national interests and of international security more generally.


The present volume reflects a commitment to develop international maritime coopera­tion between the United States and China through academic dialogue—and also to the careful examination of unique Chinese perspectives on critical issues related to NTS. It is the result of the China Maritime Studies Institute’s annual conference in Newport during May 2010, which involved the participation of almost a dozen Chinese specialist pre­senters, who were able to exchange ideas with their American counterparts. It is worth noting that despite a major effort to invite wide PLA Navy participation in this confer­ence, the Chinese navy ultimately declined to attend, because of political difficulties in the bilateral relationship. Despite this initial setback, the conference was quite successful, as the insightful chapters that follow will demonstrate. For their help in planning the initial conference, I wish to acknowledge the major assistance of Mr. Dalton Alexander and Lt. Cdr. Edward Fiorentino, as well as Naval War College faculty members Professor Andrew Erickson and Professor Kathleen Walsh. …