January 14, 2022

Washington’s Missing China Strategy

By Richard Fontaine

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 the Pentagon’s top priority. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has described China as “the biggest geopolitical test” of the twenty-first century. And President Joe Biden himself has stated that he envisions “extreme competition” between Washington and Beijing. As his administration prepares to issue a raft of strategy documents—including for national security, national defense, and the Indo-Pacific—it is widely expected to single out China for special attention.

Competition is merely a description of U.S.-Chinese relations, not an end in itself.

To invoke the U.S.-Chinese rivalry as a defining feature of today’s world is now commonplace, and analysts and policymakers across the political spectrum support the United States’ shift away from engagement and toward competition. Jettisoning Washington’s previous strategy of cooperation and integration, premised as it was on the eventual transformation of Chinese behavior, is a rare point of agreement between the Trump and Biden administrations.

Read the full article from Foreign Affairs.

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