Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Possible scenarios for China-U.S. Relations by 2030

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posted on 2021-11-14, 02:24 authored by Vu, Thanh Duy

The rise of China and relative decline of the United States have caused a heated debate on a possible power shift in the Asia-Pacific. Whether China and the U.S. will become friends or enemies remains an unanswered question. This necessitates a thorough study on the future of China-U.S. relations and how they will affect the strategic chessboard in the region.  This Thesis examines the possible scenarios of China-U.S. relations by 2030. It argues that while the nature of China-U.S. relations is characterized by strategic competition, increasing interdependence between the two countries requires them to cooperate and co-exist with each other. If current trends continue, by 2030, the most likely scenarios for China-U.S. relations will, in descending order, be a continued China-U.S. strategic competition in peaceful co-existence, a new Cold War, a G-2 style condominium, and a predominance by China over the U.S. in the Asia-Pacific. The Thesis also finds that unlike the past, China-U.S. relations will be increasingly influenced by external factors and unpredictable events or crises. Each of the scenarios in China-U.S. relations will have a different but equally profound impact on the security architecture in the region, especially the ASEAN-led mechanisms for regional security cooperation. These results suggest that at times of power shifts between the U.S. and China, scenario-based planning can be a viable policy option for countries in the Asia-Pacific.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

International Relations

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of International Relations

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

940399 International Relations not elsewhere classified

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Ayson, Robert