The Building Blocks of a China Strategy

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China stratsAlong overdue reassessment of how the United States should deal with the People’s Republic of China is finally taking place, with governments across the West jarred into action by the devastation wrought by the pandemic and by the Chinese government’s prevarication and lack of transparency since the crisis began. Despite a concerted and aggressive propaganda campaign by the Chinese Communist Party through various channels in the West to deflect blame for the cover-up and mishandling of the initial stages of the Wuhan epidemic, in country after affected country, momentum is building to fundamentally reorder relations with China. As the pandemic cuts ever-deeper into our social fabric, devastating our economies and increasing the likelihood we will be set back a generation when it comes to growth and prosperity—with a deep recession or even depression a real possibility—the systemic vulnerability brought about by offshoring the production of critical medicines and supplies to an adversary state is plain for all to see. As national debts track for levels unseen since 1945, pre-pandemic assumptions about overall global and regional power balances, their long-term trends and the durability of legacy security institutions have been called into question.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union constituted an immediate security threat to the West, but it never had the means to become an economic competitor; in contrast, the communist Chinese state credibly challenges us in both arenas. After three decades of globalization, the People’s Republic of China is for the first time in a genuinely competitive position vis-à-vis the United States when it comes to manufacturing, its technological base, and financial reserves, and it is using the resources it has accumulated to rapidly expand its army and navy, as well as its military capabilities in other domains.

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