A recent essay by Brookings Institution scholar Tom Wright has caused a small storm among watchers of China-U.S. relations. In the process, the essay has indirectly raised difficult questions around strategic priorities – and the difficulties in managing competing ones. But even more fundamentally, Wright’s article once again brings to the fore old dilemmas around strategic tradeoffs when it comes to the “right” mix of competitive and cooperative elements in the United States’ China strategy, strategies of linkage, and the extent to which future, lasting gains from cooperation around wicked global problems – such as climate change – may come at the cost of ceding geostrategic space to Beijing.

Writing in The Atlantic on December 23, Wright focuses on President-elect Joe Biden appointing former Secretary of State John Kerry as special presidential envoy on climate change, and the dangers it may entail in…

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