Video: Former Defense Official Says Beware of Hawks Entering US-China Policy Debate

Michael Pillsbury speaks at Asia Society New York on April 7, 2015. (4 min., 12 sec.)

Former U.S. Defense Department official Michael Pillsbury warned on Tuesday that a serious conflict between the U.S. and China could potentially break out.

Speaking last night at Asia Society New York about his new book The Hundred-Year Marathon: China's Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower, Pillsbury said that over the past few decades, most U.S. government analysts — including himself — thought that China's policy of “bide your time and keep your head down” would persist until around mid-century before the country tried to challenge the American “hegemon” and its interests in Asia.

“I was wrong,” Pillsbury said, explaining that Chinese military officers have told him a different story regarding territorial disputes that the U.S. has a stake in. “Their view is, Look—the balance of power is already shifting, so if the Filipinos, the Japanese, and the Vietnamese make trouble for China ... we will not accept the old approach.”

In the above video clip, Pillsbury goes on to say that military literature in both China and the U.S. is increasingly dropping euphemisms and using more explicit language about how to defeat the other in a war. He warns that if hawks in either country come to power, it could result in violent conflict.