Thomas Schelling, the United States, and China’s Rise

Thomas Schelling’s theoretical work on coercive diplomacy carries important lessons for U.S. security policy toward a rising China. This talk will address the challenges in combining credible threats and credible assurances in deterring a PRC military attack on Taiwan and the need to differentiate clearly between unconditional restrictions on the transfer of militarily relevant technology to China and conditional threats to punish China economically if Beijing adopts certain proscribed policies.

Thomas J. Christensen is James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations and Director of the China and the World program in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. From 2006 to 2008, he served as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, with responsibility for relations with China, Taiwan, and Mongolia. He is a Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution, a life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and editor of the Nancy B. Tucker and Warren I. Cohen book series on the United States in Asia at the Columbia University Press. He received a Distinguished Public Service Award from the United States Department of State.

His research and teaching focuses on China’s foreign relations, the international relations of East Asia, and international security. Previously, he taught at Princeton University, MIT, and Cornell University. He received his bachelor’s from Haverford College, his master’s in international relations from the University of Pennsylvania, and a doctorate in political science from Columbia University.