Amidst studies attempting to fix the U.S., China, and their relationship into preconceived frameworks of international relations, presupposed definitions, and models of reality, this dissertation adopts an identity centric approach to understanding the nature of U.S.-China relations and, more generally, international politics. This approach involves utilizing an interpretive method to understanding, analyzing the narratives of self and other expressed by political actors and how their identities--expressed through narratives--interact with one another and thus how they influence or reflect social behavior. Striving for greater understanding and a more intellectually honest approach to the study of international politics, this study seeks not theory building or generalizability in a traditional "scientific" sense. Rather, informed by thinkers from Karl Popper through those more recent, this dissertation develops and outlines an in-depth, contextual approach to understanding, applying this approach to analyzing the nature of U.S.-China relations. Ultimately, this study argues that U.S. and Chinese identities and how their identities interact influence the nature of U.S.-China relations, whether the relationship tends towards cooperation or conflict, and that in order to glimpse this nature researchers must delve into the details of their subjects of study. Attempting to do so, this study analyzes U.S.-China relations surrounding the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, relations regarding the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute between China and Japan as it pertains to U.S. relations with China, and relations regarding encounters between the U.S. and China in cyber space (paying special note to attempts to define this "space" itself).