Paul Haenle served as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolian Affairs on the National Security Council staffs of former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama prior to joining Carnegie:
When, at the no-necktie summit in California in 2013, Xi [Chinese President Xi Jinping] put forward the [strategic partnership] concept, he mentioned three foundational principles: no conflict and no confrontation; mutual respect, including for both countries’ core interests and major concerns; and win-win cooperation. The United States has long reiterated that the relationship should be based not on slogans but on the quality of the cooperation.
….But China’s call for respect for core interests has been a showstopper in Washington, seen as an indication that what China really seeks is U.S. concessions on areas of long-standing disagreement between the two countries.
Historically China has defined its core interests as including Taiwan, Tibet, and Xinjiang (the Uyghur Autonomous Region) but these have lately expanded to include the South China Sea (9-dash line) and Diaoyu (Senkaku) islands administered by Japan.
Vladimir Lenin advocated: “Probe with a bayonet. If you meet steel, stop. If you meet mush, then push.”
Any attempt at conciliation would encourage further expansion.