October 29, 2018

Strategic competition beyond confrontation with China

By Elsa B. Kania

The Trump administration is undertaking a historic reorientation of U.S. policy towards China. The 2018 National Defense Strategy highlighted the “reemergence of long-term, strategic competition” as the “central challenge” for American national security. Calling for an open acknowledgement of the reality of this competition, Matt Pottinger, senior director for East Asia on the National Security Council, has quoted Confucius in saying, “If names cannot be correct, then language is not in accordance with the truth of things. And if language is not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.”

Such clarity and candor should be welcomed in U.S.-China relations. It is necessary and appropriate to undertake a recalibration of the relationship through more forceful responses to Beijing’s predatory and problematic behavior.

The United States and China are entering a new era in which rivalry and confrontation may extend across all dimensions of this relationship. Vice President Mike Pence’s recent remarks on policy towards China highlighted issues of real and serious concern, including China’s “economic aggression,” military modernization, and covert influence and interference. The frictions are ever more apparent, with the reemergence of the South China Sea as a potential flashpoint and the trade war, which continues with no end in sight.

Read the full article in The Hill.

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