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
CommentaryThe United States Can’t Afford the Brutal Price of Chinese Solar Panels
Buying Chinese solar panels to reduce emissions is like using gas to put out a fire....
By Henry Wu
CommentaryIsrael’s growing ties to China are testing its relationship with the U.S.
As a sovereign, high-tech, democratic powerhouse, Israel has a fundamental stake in the contest between China and the free world....
By David Feith
CommentaryBipartisan support for taking on China goes only so far
The embrace of great-power competition comes with a critical caveat. Both parties’ enthusiasm for the concept abruptly ends when it requires doing something politically hard....
By Vance Serchuk
CommentaryHow the Afghanistan Withdrawal Costs the U.S. With China
U.S. departure from Kabul could end up undermining, rather than strengthening, America’s strategic hand against China....
By Richard Fontaine & Vance Serchuk