We are not entering a new Cold War, despite both Chinese President Xi and US Vice-President Pence finding the term a useful rhetorical tool. The Americans have decided to compete against China because they think the last two decades of cooperation has failed. The Trump Administration, though, is careful to say that competition does not mean conflict.

Cooperation is where two states work together for the common good. Conflict involves a clash between hostile entities. Competition is different to both. Competition is not between two alone but instead a contest between two states over a third party or object. A sporting analogy may help: athletes compete on a playing field to win a prize. They don’t fight each other directly as during conflict but instead seek to gain an external object while denying it to the other.

The prize America and China both seek is clear: global leadership. They don’t want to fight each other. Instead they are quarrelling over who leads the international system. Leadership, however, is something others grant; it cannot be achieved by edict or force.

Please click here to read the full ‘US-China competition is all about us‘ article at the Lowy Interpreter, written by Griffith Asia Institute Visiting Fellow, Dr Peter Layton.