Work said U.S. and Chinese leaders both see the bilateral relationship as one in which there are “measures of cooperation and measures of competition.”
“We’re hoping over time that the cooperative aspects outweigh competitive aspects,” Work added.
Citing a Harvard study on rising powers confronting established powers, Work said that interactions between the two often result in war.
As a result, the Defense Department must “hedge against this international competition turning more heated.”
The United States has generally felt the best hedge is a strong nuclear and conventional deterrence capable of overmatching any rival, he added.
Work said the United States has relied on technological superiority for the past 25 years, but now “the margin of technological superiority upon which we have become so accustomed … is steadily eroding.”
To adjust, he said, the Pentagon is working to develop new technologies to maintain its edge and lower the cost of responding to attacks.