Some uncharacteristic Big Thoughts in my latest at the Diplomat:
After 1989, the United States no longer saw an increase in Chinese economic and military power as a useful end in and of itself. Rather, Washington preferred to believe that Chinese economic growth (supported by trade and investment from the United States) would inevitably produce regime liberalization, and potentially the collapse of the CCP. At the very least, integration into the liberal international economic order would “tame” China, and make it a positive contributor within that system.
Whether this amounted to a China “strategy,” or merely a way to rationalize the preferences of American firms which wanted access to China’s markets and labor pools, the engagement of China brought much heavier trade, investment, and integration between the U.S. and Chinese economies. The United States eschewed the tools that states often use to keep potential competitors down, preferring to believe in the possibility of positive sum outcomes.