The concept of order in regional security is often characterized as hierarchical, consensus-based, or some hybrid middle-road. The debate largely focuses on how major powers, specifically China or America, can individually build an accommodating order. This article explores the causation of order-building in reverse by asking if the Sino-US relationship can create order as a by-product of individual attempts to build and manage security. It examines Chinese and American responses to North Korea and the South China Sea to demonstrate that order can be constructed through a complex set of negotiated interactions, which encompass cooperative, hierarchical, and consensus-building approaches to order-building. This "unhappy coexistence" implies that order as a by-product of state interaction is a useful but incomplete framework to understand security order-building.