On November 8, 2017, Air Force One touched down in Beijing, marking the start of a state visit hosted by China’s president and Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping. From my first day on the job as President Trump’s national security adviser, China had been a top priority. The country figured prominently in what President Obama had identified for his successor as the biggest immediate problem the new administration would face — what to do about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. But many other questions about the nature and future of the relationship between China and the United States had also emerged, reflecting China’s fundamentally different perception of the world.
Since the heady days of Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s, the assumptions that had