- NBR - The National Bureau of Asian Research

The United States and Asia’s Rising Giants

Ashley J. Tellis


This chapter overviews the themes and conclusions of the volume, examining the causes behind the rise of China and India, the implications for the U.S., and the responses of other Asian states.

Main Argument:

China and India will likely sustain high levels of economic growth for some time due to favorable factor endowments, sensible national policies, and the benefits of late integration into the liberal international order maintained by U.S. power. Although the global dominance of Asia’s rising giants is not inevitable, given that they both face significant domestic challenges, other Asian states are integrating economically with China especially, and at the same time are seeking ways to preserve their own security and autonomy against China’s economic, political, and military ambitions. While India is far from becoming the central strategic focus of Asia, its internally powered rise foreshadows greater future possibilities and its democratic system makes it an attractive partner for other states seeking to counterbalance China’s growing might.

Policy Implications:

  • Whereas the U.S. tolerated relative decline during the first wave of Asian ascendance due to alliances with Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore, the rise of China and India requires policymakers to grapple with managing the dilemma of sustaining economic interdependence that generates overall growth but produces new geopolitical rivals to U.S. primacy.
  • The U.S. and India share a strategic affinity that neither can easily replicate with China. However, unlike the dependency developing between the U.S. and China, engagement with India has not yet produced a relationship deep enough that its failure would cost both sides dearly.
  • The U.S. cannot presume that the extant international order will pacify a rising power such as China. Instead, the U.S. must seek to rebuild its strength and reinvigorate the Asian alliance system.