There is a bipartisan consensus on the fact that China poses a broad challenge to the United States across multiple domains. I don’t believe we have a clear consensus on the precise mix of policies that are necessary to address this challenge. There certainly isn’t a consensus on how much de-risking and decoupling is necessary to strike the right balance between national security concerns and upholding American values and principles that have long held dear the free flow of information, people, trade and open markets.
Patricia M. Kim is a fellow at Brookings and holds a joint appointment to the John L. Thornton China Center and the Center for East Asia Policy Studies. She first joined Brookings as a David M. Rubenstein Fellow. She is an expert on Chinese foreign policy, U.S.-China relations, and U.S. alliance management and regional security dynamics in East Asia.
Previously, Kim served as a China specialist at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where she focused on China’s impact on conflict dynamics around the world and directed major projects on U.S.-China strategic stability and China’s growing presence in the Red Sea region. She was also a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, International Security Program Research Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and postdoctoral fellow at the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program at Princeton University.
Kim’s writing and research has been featured widely in outlets such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The South China Morning Post. She frequently briefs U.S. government officials in her areas of expertise and has testified before the House Intelligence Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade.
Kim received her doctoral degree from the Department of Politics at Princeton University and her bachelor’s degree with highest distinction in political science and Asian studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Korean, and proficient in Japanese. Kim is also a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
- Council on Foreign Relations, term member
- National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, member
Areas of Expertise
- Chinese foreign policy
- U.S.-China relations
- East Asian regional security and politics
- U.S. alliances
- Korean Peninsula
- Global Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Center
- Senior Policy Analyst on China, United States Institute of Peace
- Visiting Scholar, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
- Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
- Postdoctoral Fellow, Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program
- Research Fellow, International Security Program, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
- Ph.D., Princeton University
- B.A., University of California, Berkeley
Media and Appearances
There were expectations that early 2023 would be a window of opportunity for Washington and Beijing to get to work on building the guardrails for the relationship that both sides recognize are vital for preventing confrontation.
The United States and China share a strong common interest in not going to war with each other and global stability, generally speaking. This gives them a reason to engage with each other.
South Korea is currently juggling a number of competing interests. While the Yoon administration has vowed to enhance defense cooperation with the United States to deter the growing nuclear and missile threat from North Korea, it also needs Beijing’s cooperation to manage the North Korean nuclear challenge.
Beijing has long bristled at moves to strengthen the U.S.-(South Korea) alliance and South Korea’s efforts to plug into U.S.-led initiatives in the region… Chinese leaders have called on their South Korean counterparts to oppose exclusive regional groupings and may choose to use China’s economic leverage to keep Seoul from aligning too closely with Washington and the Quad.
While there’s some debate about the precise state of North Korea’s missile capabilities, including the new hypersonic missile it claims to have tested, what is clear is that North Korea’s continued advancement of its nuclear and missile programs are exacerbating the security dilemma in the region. Because diplomacy has failed thus far to restrain Pyongyang, Northeast Asian states, especially South Korea and Japan, feel as if they have no other choice but to increase their own military capabilities and joint capabilities with the United States to deter, or in the worst case, preempt, a North Korean attack. Beijing, however, claims these moves shift the military balance in the region in a way that threatens its own security, and that it must continue to advance its own strategic capabilities in response. In sum, North Korea’s ever-advancing missile and nuclear programs are creating major ripple effects on the region.
Pyongyang is likely to continue to make choices driven chiefly by its own interests and strategic timetables. China has never been able to dictate North Korea’s actions.
[China’s motivation is to avoid] a crisis in its neighborhood with the Winter Olympics around the corner and the 20th Party Congress coming up in the fall.
While the Biden administration has been very successful thus far on the alliance-building front, we’ve yet to see the establishment of a sustainable working relationship with China, largely because of Beijing’s resistance to the Biden administration’s proposed framework. I would count the upcoming summit as a success if the two leaders are able to jointly affirm that neither side seeks conflict or a new cold war and that they are empowering officials at the working levels to lay the foundations for responsible competition, including jointly working on pressing issues such as crisis management, nonproliferation, and climate change.