The architects of US strategy in Asia have advanced a bold vision for a "free and open Indo-Pacific" but have paid less attention to China's views and responses. This article surveys perceptions of Chinese strategists toward the Trump administration's regional approach, arguing that China's analytic community came to see US strategy as largely focused on the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. The most frequent Chinese prescription was a wedge strategy to weaken support for the United States among the other three Quad states: Japan, India, and Australia. Evidence from Chinese public diplomacy during the Trump years is consistent with such an approach. Yet the increase in assertive actions targeting the Quad partners revealed other impulses guiding policymakers and ultimately brought the four states more closely together. The Biden administration has an opportunity to leverage China's inability to successfully execute a wedge strategy to strengthen support for US influence and goals in the region.
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Joel Wuthnow is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at National Defense University. The views expressed are the authors own and do not reflect those of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.