What a difference the last five years have made to U.S.-Chinese relations! Up until about 2015 it was still possible to talk about “Chimerica,” the word invented by historian Niall Ferguson in 2006 to describe the symbiotic relationship between the U.S. and Chinese economy—responsible, according to Ferguson, for the greatest and most rapid period of wealth creation in human history. Since 2019, however, the same Niall Ferguson has been talking about “Cold War II,” the new, heightened state of economic, political, and military competition between the two countries. Any number of media commentators have tried to blame President Trump and his trade war for worsened relations, but serious observers have seen trouble coming for over a decade. Ferguson himself maintains that the responsibility for Cold War II lies principally with the Chinese themselves, under the ambitious government of Xi Jinping.

How serious is the Chinese threat to the United States, what is the nature of that threat, what are China’s ultimate goals, and what, if anything, should the U.S. do to respond? Michael Auslin and David Goldman tackle those questions in new books, both of which could fairly be called alarmist, though Auslin’s book is the more balanced of the two. Both authors insist that the U.S. is still in a position to contain China’s challenge, but warn that the time to do so

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