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It takes two people to tango, but only one to start a war. Thanks to Xi Jinping’s decade-long rule, the United States is now engaged in a new Cold War with People’s republic of Chinawas a more capable and dangerous adversary than the Soviet Union at the height of its power.
In this conflict, the United States lacks two major advantages that it had in the United States Cold War with the Soviet Union. Next, we have assembled a powerful coalition of countries committed to containing Moscow. There is no such alliance today: the West is divided over Chinese relations in general and over its approach to eliminating the growing economic and military threat from the Chinese Communist Party.
Moreover, the United States and its allies effectively severed their economic ties with the Soviet Union. This economic war, along with American diplomacy and strong deterrence, eventually led to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
But when it came to dealing with the rising communist power, China, the West took a very different path. It pursued a strategy of engagement, based on the theory that the more Beijing participates in international trade and international organisations, the easier it will be to guide this developing country along a path to greater economic openness and, ultimately, more political freedom.
That maneuver worked brilliantly. to Beijing.
China has benefited from access to American finance and technology to fuel economic growth and its massive military buildup. Under Xi Jinping, the communist regime has become more repressive at home and more aggressive abroad.
Decades of unprecedentedly systematic espionage efforts by the People’s Republic of China have bled the US economy out of trillions of dollars in intellectual property theft. Furthermore, the “share” left us dangerously dependent on Chinese products. Critical supply chains, from vital rare earth elements to major pharmaceutical products, depend largely or entirely on companies that are loyal to CCP. (Chinese national security laws make virtually every Chinese company subject to intelligence requests and other directives from the party.)
PRC hackers compromised the personal data of tens of millions of Americans. Popular Chinese social media apps pass on data on millions more, while Beijing continues to “donate” reconnaissance drones to local US police and fire departments.
And Chinese influence does not end there. The People’s Republic of China has established a presence on American university campuses and operates secret police stations in several American cities. Chinese “friendship societies” and agents of the United Front Department of Labor are injecting influence into Washington and Wall Street along with lobbyists and consulting firms funded by the Chinese Communist Party. while, Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids Sourced from China, it was responsible for more than 70,000 deaths in the United States last year.
On the international scene, the PRC is clearly determined to replace American leadership, and to terrorize its Indo-Pacific neighbors into submission. It mounts mock sieges of Taiwan, clashes with Indian forces in the Himalayas, and sends fighter jets to scout Japanese airspace. Economic coercion launched Campaigns against South Korea Australia, supporting the deadly Russian invasion of Ukraine and keeping the rogue regime in North Korea afloat.
The People’s Republic of China lays claim to the entire South China Sea – and with it some of the world’s most important shipping lanes – as it has militarized new artificial islands and deployed naval militia to harass its neighbours. It harasses US military aircraft and naval vessels operating lawfully in international waters in a continuing series of dangerous confrontations. Recently, a Chinese spy balloon penetrated US airspace, monitoring sensitive military installations as it crossed the American continent.
This is not an imaginary trick. This is the behavior of the opponent, not the competitor. However, so far, Washington’s response has been inadequate. Course correction is long overdue.
To help accelerate this serious conversation about policy, the Heritage Foundation has brought together more than two dozen foreign policy, legal, military, economic, and energy experts to develop a comprehensive plan to confront China.
The plan proposes a wide range of economic strategies, from “rebuilding and rounding up critical manufacturing industries and supporting friends” outside China to encouraging state and local pension funds to offload problem Chinese firms. It also calls for stricter implementation and enforcement of export controls – particularly over technology that can make China’s military more powerful.
To enhance deterrence, the plan calls for a significant increase in US military presence – and doubling foreign aid spending – in the Indo-Pacific region. To achieve this, Washington will need to continue to stress the importance of burden-sharing among our European allies to keep Russia at bay.
The plan recommends many other kinds of initiatives, too—from lobbying reforms to eliminating CCP influence operations from college campuses.
We are in a new cold war with the People’s Republic of China. Winning that war will require efforts by the entire government and the entire society to protect our people and our economy from the CCP’s malicious actions. This is the greatest existential threat that America must defeat in the twenty-first century. It’s time to go on the offensive.