While there is a pretty solid consensus in the United States about how to think about China — a view that is spreading throughout the developed world more generally — it’s about a mile wide and an inch deep.

China has been deemed a “strategic competitor,” but that phrase leaves a lot to the imagination; most importantly, it doesn’t help us figure out the appropriate response to that challenge.

In recent weeks, however, there has been an especially spirited debate in the U.S. over what to do. It’s much more than an academic exercise: Participants include folks who were or likely will be fairly senior in the White House. Even if they don’t make it to the inner circle of the next administration (Republican or Democrat), their views will shape its policies toward China.