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Abstract

Since the end of World War II, the United States has developed and maintained its strategic alliances with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Taiwan, and has worked to contain China through bolstering its deterrence strategy. However, after a century of humiliation, China is modernizing its military capabilities, improving in trade, and increasing political cohesion to become a regional hegemon. In light of these changes to the international order, the United States must re-evaluate its involvement in East Asia, particularly concerning its alliances and current military and economic deterrence strategy against China. This paper will draw on a variety of academic sources to analyze the history of these alliances, the rise of China, and the growing tensions between these nations to examine the effectiveness of containing China. Clear guidance backed by thorough research and analysis is given for how American policymakers should adjust their economic and military strategy towards China. This paper advocates that the United States should decrease its alliance commitments to Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines by decreasing economic and military support and limiting its defense commitments to these nations. For Taiwan, the United States should establish clear redlines to improve the credibility of its deterrence. These findings provide a thorough analysis of the geopolitical situation in East Asia to allow policymakers to better understand the justifications for each nation’s actions and determine how to best engage with them.

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