Author David Frum says U.S. policymakers should view the US-China relationship with more confidence because China’s rising military and economic power may not be quite what it seems.


In an opinion piece published in The Atlantic, author David Frum puts forward a thought-provoking assertion that China’s power may be over-estimated. Frum backs his argument—at least in part—on a 2018 book by Michael Beckley titled Unrivalled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower. The book is a detailed study of Chinese military and economic weaknesses. It argues that China’s economic and military strength is hugely exaggerated, while statistics on U.S. advantages are consistently underestimated. According to Frum, Beckley argues that while American analysts worry about China’s growing navy, Chinese pilots are flying fewer hours than U.S. pilots and only began training on aircraft carriers in 2012. He also claims that Chinese troops spend at least a fifth of their time studying communist ideology. The U.S. military is almost wholly focused on external threats—unlike the Chinese military, which is required to focus on both internal and external threats.