Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Rules of the road" with China

One of the burdens of being a "great power" is that other nations, great and small, expect you to act like one. China, always big in population, is now a major economic power and is becoming a military power with modern and diverse capabilities for actions far beyond its borders. At the UN, where China is one of the permanent five members of the Security Council, Beijing has gradually become more willing to act in concert with the other major powers to try to shape outcomes in conflict areas, despite its rhetorical opposition to interfering in the internal affairs of other nations.

China's growing power and assertiveness, coupled with America's "pivot to Asia," calls for careful diplomacy to avoid disastrous accidents. Mike Krepon, founder of the Stimson Center and long an expert on arms control, has a persuasive piece in the Washington Post making the case for China and America to begin to work on "rules of the road" agreements for the two country's activities in space. While no comprehensive agreement is in the cards, smaller understandings are possible, and they could pave the way for confidence-building measures in the future.

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