Toward an Inclusive and Balanced Regional Order: A New U.S. Strategy in East Asia

Under Donald Trump, the United States government pursued a dangerous strategy toward East Asia centered on quixotic efforts to retain American regional military primacy and pressure Asian nations to contain the People’s Republic of China. This zero-sum strategy, if continued by the incoming Biden Administration, will alienate America’s friends and allies, polarize the region, and increase the likelihood of armed conflict with Beijing. The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft has just issued a report entitled, “Toward an Inclusive and Balanced Regional Order: A New U.S. Strategy in East Asia.” It presents an alternative U.S. approach to the region that stresses balance over dominance, inclusion over exclusion, and reassurance and cooperation alongside less escalatory forms of deterrence. Please join us for a presentation and discussion of the main points of QI’s new report, featuring authors Michael D. Swaine, Jessica J. Lee, and Rachel Esplin Odell; former U.S. Ambassador to China J. Stapleton Roy, and former acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton. The discussion will take place Friday, January 29, at 2:00 pm EST.


Susan Thornton

Susan A. Thornton is a retired senior U.S. diplomat with almost 30 years of experience with the U.S. State Department in Eurasia and East Asia. She is currently a Senior Fellow and Research Scholar at the Yale University Law School Paul Tsai China Center, Director of the Forum on Asia-Pacific Security at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Until July 2018, Thornton was Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State and led East Asia policy making amid crises with North Korea, escalating trade tensions with China, and a fast-changing international environment. Thornton received her MA in International Relations from Johns Hopkins SAIS and her BA from Bowdoin College in Economics and Russian.

Michael D. Swaine

Michael D. Swaine, director of QI’s East Asia program, is one of the most prominent American scholars of Chinese security studies. He comes to QI from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he worked for nearly twenty years as a senior fellow specializing in Chinese defense and foreign policy, U.S.-China relations, and East Asian international relations. Swaine has authored and edited more than a dozen books and monographs, including Remaining Aligned on the Challenges Facing Taiwan (with Ryo Sahashi; 2019), Conflict and Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region: A Strategic Net Assessment (with Nicholas Eberstadt et al; 2015) and many journal articles and book chapters. Swaine received his doctorate in government from Harvard University and his bachelor’s degree from George Washington University.

Jessica J. Lee

Jessica J. Lee is a Senior Research Fellow in the East Asia Program at the Quincy Institute. Her research focuses on U.S. foreign policy toward the Asia-Pacific region, with an emphasis on alliances and North Korea. Previously, Jessica led the Council of Korean Americans. Prior to CKA, Jessica was a Resident Fellow at the Pacific Forum in Honolulu. Previously, Jessica was a senior manager at The Asia Group, LLC, a strategy and capital advisory firm. She began her career on Capitol Hill, first as a professional staff member handling the Asia region for the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and then as a senior legislative assistant on international security and trade for a member of Congress on the Ways and Means Committee. Jessica holds a B.A. in Political Science from Wellesley College and an A.M. in Regional Studies-East Asia from Harvard University.

Rachel Esplin Odell

Rachel Esplin Odell is a Research Fellow in the East Asia Program at the Quincy Institute and an expert in U.S. strategy toward Asia, Chinese foreign policy, and maritime disputes. She was an International Security Fellow in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School from 2019 to 2020. She received her PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where her dissertation studied the politics of how countries interpret the international law of the sea. Her research on the relationship between maritime power and international law received the Alexander George Award from the Foreign Policy Analysis Section of the International Studies Association. She holds an AB summa cum laude in East Asian Studies with a secondary field in Government from Harvard University and has advanced proficiency in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.

J. Stapleton Roy (Moderator)

Ambassador J. Stapleton (Stape) Roy is a Distinguished Fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC. He was born in China and spent much of his youth there during the upheavals of World War II and the communist revolution. He joined the US Foreign Service immediately after graduating from Princeton in 1956, retiring 45 years later with the rank of Career Ambassador. During a career focused on East Asia and the Soviet Union, his ambassadorial assignments included Singapore, China, and Indonesia. His final post with the State Department was as Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Research. On retirement he joined Kissinger Associates, Inc., a strategic consulting firm, moving to the Wilson Center in 2008 to head the newly created Kissinger Institute. In 2001 he received Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson Award for Distinguished Public Service.