After the recent high-level U.S.-China talks in Alaska there may be no going back. China and the U.S. are in a new Cold War.
We’ve been in one for years, at least from China’s perspective. But now U.S. leaders, even some of the woke socialists on the Democrat left and in the Biden administration, are waking up to the threat China poses to American peace and prosperity.
It’s unlikely any progress will be made on the core economic, trade and human rights issues in these or subsequent U.S.-China negotiations. Why?
Because Chinese Communist Party leaders believe the tides of history have turned … that China is a rising power and the U.S. a declining power … that centralized authoritarian governments are superior to dysfunctional democracies … that iron-fisted state-run capitalism is more efficient than chaotic free market capitalism.
In short, the Chinese believe they are already, or soon will be, the strongest nation in the world. Any concessions on major issues will come from others, not from China.
In a way the Chinese have done us a favor – they have put the new Cold War out in the open for all to see. But that is the last favor they will ever give us.
Today China speaks openly abouts its intentions – the 21st century belongs to them and they plan to replace the United States as the dominant world power economically, technologically, militarily, politically and diplomatically and then rewrite the international rules of order to suit their own interests, and at our expense.
There is no amount of cajoling, negotiating, flattery or scolding that can divert them from their course. The liberal world order that has served us so well for the last 70 years is fading and will soon be replaced by a world order “with Chinese characteristics” to quote their leaders.
If we are to preserve the liberal world order, democracy and free markets for the 21st century, the U.S. needs to come up with a new plan to deal with China. Just as we created a new world order to deal with the Soviet Union and communism after World War II, we must now do the same for dealing with China. And while history doesn’t repeat itself, it does rhyme.
At the end of World War II, the world had two superpowers – the United States and the Soviet Union. The U.S. reached out to the nations devastated by the ravages of war and through the Marshall Plan helped rebuild their economies and societies. We did the same with our national security needs, creating and underwriting a system of mutual defense alliances in Europe and Asia.
It worked brilliantly. Today those nations are strong economically and politically, they’re democracies and they all count themselves as U.S. allies, albeit friendly economic competitors.
Like the Soviet Union after World War II, China believes it is destined to rule the world.
Decades later we used that same template to help China modernize, believing that China would over time also open its economy and society. However, China had no intention of following our plan.
Their Made in China 2025 plan to master the critical technologies of the future, their One Belt One Road plan to create a EurAsian trade route, their 5G plan to build the internet infrastructure of the future, and China’s increased aggressiveness aboard show just how they plan to remake the world.
President Trump saw this early on and focused on China as America’s most serious strategic threat. When the pandemic hit, the Trump administration took steps to protect America’s critical supply chains by bringing production back to the homeland and to our allies. Had he served a second term, Trump planned to take further steps to free America and our allies from dependency on Chinese manufacture.
Hopefully the Biden administration will continue and expand these efforts. Even so, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that these efforts alone will be insufficient to protect American people and prosperity in years ahead.
The Biden administration, to its credit has begun exploring a new alliance between the U.S., Japan, Australia and India – the Quad. The question is how far are they willing to take it?
If it is merely an opportunity for the four nations to collectively grouse about China, the Quad will do little to stop China’s push for dominance. Without concrete action however, these are mere words and aspirations. Eventually the Biden/Harris administration will have no choice but cave to China’s demands.
However, if they can band together with Japan, Australia and India to stand up to China and are willing, and able, to work together to deal with China’s inevitable pushback, they just might preserve the international world order from Chinese domination.
Like the Soviet Union after World War II, China believes it is destined to rule the world. The United States created the liberal world order of free trade, rule of law and international organizations. We can do so today by creating an economic and security alliance system beginning with the Quad.
China’s “wolf warrior diplomacy” is already loose in Asia and the world. They use their trade, military and cyber dominance to punish any country that dares stand up to them. Their plan is to pick us off, one at a time, until only the U.S. remains, isolated and alone.
If President Biden is unwilling or unable to craft a security alliance beginning with the Quad, the next Republican president will have to do it in 2024.