US–China Competition: Risks without Rewards?

Professor Ashley J. Tellis, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Monday 15 January 2024, 17:00 GMT

China Centre, Kin-ku Cheng Lecture Theatre


The evolving US–China competition promises to become the defining feature of international politics in the

foreseeable future. US objectives in the competition consist of preserving its global hegemony in diverse

dimensions in concert with allies and friends, whereas China’s objectives consist of weakening the US security

system in the Indo-Pacific en route to becoming a peer competitor of the United States globally. President Joe

Biden’s approach to strategic competition with China has been framed in terms of ‘de-risking’ – protecting US

and allied supply chains in order to secure resiliency – but his administration’s competitive strategy has

deliberately focused on suppressing China’s capacity for technological advancement. Can this most recent turn

in US strategy deliver? The talk will address the strengths and limitations of the Biden strategy in the context

of the enduring US ambition to protect its hegemony.


Ashley J. Tellis is the Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs and a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for

International Peace, specializing in international security and US foreign and defence policy with a special

focus on Asia and the Indian subcontinent.


While on assignment to the US Department of State as senior adviser to the undersecretary of state for

political affairs, he was intimately involved in negotiating the civil nuclear agreement with India.

Previously he was commissioned into the US Foreign Service and served as senior adviser to the ambassador

at the US Embassy in New Delhi. He also served on the National Security Council staff as special assistant to

President George W. Bush and senior director for strategic planning and Southwest Asia. Prior to his

government service, Tellis was senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation and professor of policy analysis

at the RAND Graduate School.


He is a counselor at the National Bureau of Asian Research, the research director of its Strategic Asia program,

and co-editor of the program’s eighteen most recent annual volumes, including this year’s Strategic Asia:

Reshaping Economic Interdependence in the Indo-Pacific. His publications include Striking Asymmetries:

Nuclear Transitions in Southern Asia (2022) and India’s Emerging Nuclear Posture (2001), and he is the co-

author of Interpreting China’s Grand Strategy: Past, Present, and Future (2000) and the co-editor of Getting

India Back on Track (2014).