Author Biography

Ciwan M. Can holds a PhD in International Politics from Fudan University. He has previously published articles on small power strategies towards great powers, the rise of China, and the trilateral relationship between China, the EU, and the US. His research interests include international political theories, great power relations, security studies, and the relations between small and great powers.



Subject Area Keywords

China, International relations, International security, North America


This article explains why existing great powers can engage in cooperative relations with rising great powers that fuel the rise of the latter into competitors. By adopting a temporal theoretical lens and providing an examination of US-China relations in the post-Cold War era, it is argued that uncertainty about Chinese long-term intentions, economic benefits from cooperation, and the existence of other clear and imminent challenges to address incentivized the US to adopt a cooperative policy towards China. Assertive moves by China from the late 2000s onwards that the United States perceived to be indications of long-term malign intentions, the emergence of economic competition, and the fading of other challenges to US interests by the 2010s, removed these incentives for engagement and consequently led to a change from cooperative to competitive policies. This article is aimed to address the crucial questions of why the United States helped accelerate the rise of China into a peer competitor, and why that policy has changed to one in which the United States now has engaged in strategic competition with China.


The author would like to thank the Journal's two anonymous referees and Dr. Janko Scepanovic for their review and comments on the initial drafts of this paper.