China’s Shift to Gray-Zone Operations: Implications for the U.S.-Japan Alliance
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan Burke/Released

China’s Shift to Gray-Zone Operations
Implications for the U.S.-Japan Alliance

Podcast with Jonathan W. Greenert
July 9, 2021

In this Asia Insight podcast, Alison Szalwinski speaks with Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, NBR’s John M. Shalikashvili Chair in National Security Studies, about the implications of China’s gray-zone operations for the U.S. Japan alliance. Admiral Greenert is the editor of the recent report “Murky Waters in the East China Sea: Chinese Gray-Zone Operations and U.S.-Japan Alliance Cooperation,” which he discusses in the podcast.

Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert holds the John M. Shalikashvili Chair in National Security Studies at NBR. In this role, he informs debates on critical issues in the Indo-Pacific through briefings to congressional members, military, media, and administration officials. Prior to joining NBR, Admiral Greenert served as the 30th Chief of Naval Operations from 2011 to 2015.

Alison Szlawinski is Vice President of Research at NBR. She provides executive leadership to NBR’s policy research agenda and oversees research teams in Seattle and Washington, D.C.


0:13 Introduction

3:50 Tell us a little bit about your experience in dealing with Chinese behavior, and U.S.-Japan alliance coordination in the East China Sea and the Indo-Pacific region writ large.

13:07 What are gray-zone operations, and where do we find some examples of this operational shift?

16:02 What are the main issues for alliance coordination that gray-zone operations pose in the U.S.-Japan alliance?

18:17 What are the elements of the alliance framework that we need to update?

21:49 What mechanisms exist so far within the U.S.-Japan alliance framework to respond to Chinese gray-zone operations?

25:17 Are there any other more concrete measures that need to be taken to improve U.S.-Japan alliance responses to gray-zone operations?

30:29 With gray-zone operations becoming a norm for Chinese military operations, what implications does this strategic shift hold for the U.S.-Japan alliance, the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands, and how China pursues its national objectives both in its immediate periphery and beyond?

This podcast was recorded on June 25, 2021.

About Asia Insight

The NBR podcast series Asia Insight features interviews with top Asia experts about key issues affecting the Indo-Pacific region, with a focus on implications for U.S. policy and businesses. Subscribe to Asia Insight on Podbean and Apple Podcasts and let us know what you think of the podcast on Twitter.

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This podcast was edited by Sandra Ward at NBR.