International Order & Conflict

Waiting for Trouble

in Program

The United States and China have no experience and no agreements to avoid or defuse incidents in space or at sea, where both countries are flexing their military capabilities. In contrast, during the Cold War, Washington and Moscow employed many channels of communication to avoid misunderstandings, increase transparency and reach agreements to cooperate as well as compete.

If the United States and the Soviet Union could manage to avoid warfare in these domains – despite an intense ideological and geopolitical competition, severe crises and proxy wars, as well as nuclear arms and space races – then Washington and Beijing could too. So far, however, neither capital has made this a priority.

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Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center via flickr


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