The United States is the most important country China must face in its quest for maritime power. As the sole superpower, the global political, military and economic presence of the United States, in particular its forward military presence in the Western Pacific region constitutes the most significant external variable as China develops into a maritime power. The Sino-US relationship is the most important set of bilateral relations influencing future global peace and development. As the difference in Chinese and American strength steadily recedes, this relationship will approach equilibrium, at least in the Western Pacific region. Based on development trends, even with somewhat slower economic growth rates, it will only be a matter of time before China’s aggregate economic output overtakes that of the United States. A range of international economic institutions and experts in strategic forecasting virtually all concur that China’s aggregate output will surpass that of the United States in the first half of the 21st century.