This thesis explores what the US foreign policy of the Obama administrations and the Trump administration towards the People’s Republic of China has consisted of and discusses what the intention behind the administrations’ policies were. It argues that the administrations have transitioned away from the policy direction of engagement with China which had guided the American approach to a rising China since the Richard Nixon administration, without arriving at a coherent alternative to replace engagement with. The history of engagement with China, intended to promote its participation in international institutions to the benefit of the US, is explored in order to determine why a rising China has grown more authoritarian and assertive instead of liberalizing its political system. The challenges of China’s statist economic model, its increased military assertiveness and its attempts to exert influence independent of the US through the creation of Chinese-led infrastructure projects and institutions are among the issues that this thesis identifies as reasoning for the engagement strategy being phased out throughout the Obama administrations. The thesis finds that while the Obama administration did not completely abandon engagement with China, the focus of US foreign policy shifted towards deterring China from exerting its influence in the Asia-Pacific region. This contributed to the relationship between the US and China becoming confrontational when the Trump administration explicitly declared engagement to be over and brought unilateralism to the forefront of US foreign policy. The thesis finds that the foreign policy of the Trump administration was an incoherent combination of the deterrence prioritized by the Obama administration and a unilateral policy of economic competition aimed at improving trade conditions for American workers and businesses. The thesis concludes that China will likely become increasingly influential in the international system, and that the most feasible option for US foreign policy is to tone down the United States’ ambitions of unilateral global leadership.