The New Strategic Triangle:
U.S. and European Reactions
to China’s Rise
© 2005 by The Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology
The Washington Quarterly • 28:3 pp. 7–25.
THE WASHINGTON QUARTERLY ■ SUMMER 2005
David Shambaugh is a professor of political science and international affairs and
director of the China Policy Program at the George Washington University, as well as a
nonresident senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings
Institution in Washington, D.C. He previously was on the faculty at the School of
Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London from 1988 to 1996,
where he also served as editor of The China Quarterly. The author is grateful to John
Corbett, Chas W. Freeman Jr., Bates Gill, Donald Keyser, James Moran, J. Stapleton
Roy, and Michael Yahuda for their comments on earlier drafts of this article.
The transatlantic rift over the European Union’s proposed lifting
of its arms embargo on China is emblematic of the shifting geopolitical glo-
bal order, in which the interaction of the United States, China, and the EU
will be a defining feature of the international system in the years to come.
These three continental powers increasingly possess the bulk of global eco-
nomic and military power as well as normative and political influence.
Given the combined economic, political, and strategic weight of these three
principal actors on the world stage today, it behooves policymakers and ana-
lysts to pay much greater attention to the interactions of this new strategic
Along with U.S. military supremacy and unparalleled power, the EU’s in-
creasing coherence and economic weight, and the acceleration of techno-
logical and economic globalization, China’s rise in world affairs is one of the
four principal trends that define the new global order. In this new order,
China is becoming a more responsible player on the global stage and is in-
volved with a growing number of issues on the int