As the US-China strategic rivalry intensifies, the need for arms control talks to manage the increasing strategic instability between both states grows. The risk of unintended escalation grows, with potential global consequences, including for Europe. However, thus far the US and China lack the frameworks and habits to discuss nuclear and advanced conventional weapons that existed between the US and the Soviet Union.
European countries are key strategic players that both Washington and Beijing want to win the support of. In his essay, Tong Zhao (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) discusses the influence of European states and how they could potentially play a useful role in promoting US-China arms control cooperation. Because it is not directly part of the Sino-American rivalry, European states could play the role of honest broker and, Zhao argues, engage with China at both the top leadership level and the operational levels.
Zhao also identifies areas where Europe can help facilitate US-China communications on arms control issues. Zhao’s analysis includes technical suggestions on near-term risk reduction measures and longer-term steps to build capacity, in addition to potential diplomatic moves to raise attention and highlight common interests.
This is the third and final paper in a new HCSS series on Arms Control edited by Paul van Hooft and Tim Sweijs.
Find the complete Arms Control paper series here, as well as the conclusive report:
- Report | Shifting Sands of Strategic Stability: Towards A New Arms Control Agenda
- Paper | Hard Times For Arms Control: What Can Be Done?
- Paper | Real and Imagined Challenges to Strategic Stability
- Paper | Europe’s Role in Promoting US-China Arms Control Cooperation
Cover photo source: U.S. Department of State