As global attention fixes on the Trump administration’s North Korea and Iran policies, the White House is preparing for another consequential policy shift that’s gone almost unnoticed in comparison — this time on China. Reports suggest the Trump administration will soon adopt a more hard-edged strategy toward China’s unfair trade practices and pursuit of American technology, among other issues. In theory, this would represent a major departure from how the United States has approached China, now the world’s second-largest economy and military spender.
Yet the Trump administration’s ability to translate this new approach into sustained action remains in question. Multiple U.S. administrations have tried, and failed, to focus attention on a rising China.
George W. Bush’s national security team came into office determined to elevate China as a long-term strategic focus. The April 2001 collision of a Chinese fighter jet with a U.S. surveillance aircraft — and the tense standoff that followed — reinforced this perspective. By September 2001, the Pentagon was finalizing its Defense Strategy Review, which embraced great power competition with China.
Read the full op-ed in Foreign Policy.
More from CNAS
PodcastChina’s Role Within the War, with Jude Blanchette and Dave Shullman
What role will China choose to play within the Russia-Ukrainian war? Beijing has notably refused to condemn Moscow for its military aggression, instead putting the blame on th...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, David Shullman & Jude Blanchette
PodcastThe CCP Century: Jacob Stokes On The Upcoming 20th Chinese Communist Party Congress
Jacob Stokes joins the pod to discuss the upcoming 20th CCP Congress, which has not garnered a lot of attention outside of China, but will serve as a crucial inflection point ...
By Jacob Stokes
CommentaryWashington’s Missing China Strategy
The Biden administration has repeatedly identified China as the United States’ foremost foreign policy challenge. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has referred to China as th...
By Richard Fontaine
ReportsTangled Threats: Integrating U.S. Strategies toward China and North Korea
China and North Korea pose intertwined challenges for U.S. and allied policy. The Korean Peninsula constitutes just one area among many in U.S.-China relations. Meanwhile, iss...
By Jacob Stokes