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Tyler Jost

In congressional hearing, Brown scholar addresses tensions between US and China

Speaking before the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement and Intelligence, Tyler Jost called on federal leaders to stay focused on maintaining an uneasy status quo in Taiwan — and urged them to invest in social science research on the effect of China’s propaganda activities.

March 9, 2023

In the midst of escalating tensions between the United States and China, Tyler Jost, an assistant professor of political science at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, urged federal lawmakers to focus on preventing a dangerous military conflict with China, rather than focusing too intently on homeland security.

Called upon to provide testimony at a hearing held on Thursday, March 9, by the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement and Intelligence, Jost drew on his experience as a scholar of Chinese foreign policy to offer perspective on U.S.-China relations, China’s surveillance of people and military operations in the U.S., and the Chinese spy balloon whose February flight through North American airspace gripped the nation. 

Jost, whose research focuses on national security decision-making, bureaucratic politics and Chinese foreign policy, was one of four experts who gave testimony at the hearing in Washington titled “Confronting Threats Posed by the Chinese Communist Party to the U.S. Homeland.”

“The competition between the U.S. and China represents one of the defining international challenges of this century,” Jost said. “But in my view, at the center of this critical problem rests two issues that most divide Washington and Beijing: the future of Taiwan, and perceptions that the other side poses an existential threat to the stability of the domestic regime.”

Jost urged American leaders not to pull their focus from Taiwan by focusing too fixedly on homeland security. In his accompanying written testimony, Jost wrote that escalating tensions between American and Chinese leaders threaten to disrupt the two countries’ uneasy status quo over Taiwan. Those tensions, he wrote, could cause China to take military action in the Asia-Pacific, with potentially deadly consequences.