August 07, 2018

China Dreams of America Alone

As the prospect of a U.S.-China economic confrontation grows more likely by the day, Beijing takes comfort in the ongoing tensions between the United States and its allies that flared anew during President Donald Trump’s recent trip to Europe. American efforts to push back against China’s mercantilist practices will falter without the support of key allies—above all Europe —where frustration with the Trump administration today outweighs serious concerns about Beijing’s economic behavior. If current frictions endure, Beijing is likely to believe—not wrongly—that it can isolate the United States from its allies, rebalance trading relationships, and ride out temporary economic disruption.

Chinese thinkers have long recognized that U.S. alliances are America’s most important comparative advantage in the geopolitical competition for twenty-first-century preeminence. With allies, the United States achieves more. Without them, its position as the world’s leading power is increasingly precarious.

Even if President Trump is not attuned to this, China’s President Xi Jinping certainly is. Indeed, over time, Xi’s speeches have implicitly criticized America’s “ outdated geopolitical maneuvering ” and “ cold war mentality .” In a 2014 speech outlining his regional vision, Xi articulated a future in which, “Asian people, through strengthening cooperation, have the abilities and knowledge to achieve peace and stability in Asia.” Notably absent from Xi’s vision is American leadership in the Indo-Pacific region.

In fact, China has taken concrete steps to undermine the strength and resiliency of U.S. allies.

In South Korea, China perpetrated a long-term campaign to exact economic revenge on Seoul in response to its decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system, which China maintains jeopardizes its deterrence capabilities. Beijing did not believe American and South Korean assurances that THAAD focuses solely on the ballistic missile threat from North Korea. South Korean conglomerate Lotte, which sold the land housing THAAD to the South Korean government, was forced to cease operations in China due to “fire code violations.” In the tourism sector alone, South Korea lost an estimated $5.1 billion in missed revenue from Chinese tourists who Beijing prevented from traveling to South Korea. Overall, South Korean exports to China declined by $13 billion from 2015 to 2016. Facing domestic and economic pressures, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha made a public statement in October 2017 that Seoul would not consider any additional THAAD deployments, effectively ending the row.


Read the Full Article at The National Interest

  • Congressional Testimony
    • February 1, 2024
    Military Artificial Intelligence, the People’s Liberation Army, and U.S.-China Strategic Competition

    China sees AI playing a central role in advancing its military power. Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping has set ambitious goals for the PLA to “basica...

    By Jacob Stokes

  • Commentary
    • The Washington Post
    • January 22, 2024
    Rumors of China’s Decline Are Premature and Dangerous

    The chief near-term risk is not that Beijing’s ascent will fizzle, but rather that Washington will fail to muster the strength necessary for an adequate response....

    By Richard Fontaine

  • Commentary
    • Sharper
    • January 11, 2024
    Sharper: Democracy

    While 2024 marks the beginning of a presidential election year in the United States, it also marks a year of elections across the globe. These elections are taking place amid ...

    By Anna Pederson & Charles Horn

  • Commentary
    • The New York Times
    • December 29, 2023
    How to Stop Our High-Tech Equipment From Arming Russia and China

    The U.S. government’s efforts to stop Russia and China from using American equipment to boost their defense sectors have resulted in tough rules — but leaky enforcement. As a ...

    By Chris Miller & Jordan Schneider

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia