US’ new security strategy on China: Distrust, acrimony

President Joe Biden’s National Security Strategy (NSS) – or the “Biden doctrine” as some critics like to call it – has nothing to classify as “surprises.” Especially in light of the last two years of Biden’s handling of world affairs, especially Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the crushing war with Beijing on the issue of Taiwan after the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island which is independent.

Technically speaking, the NSS is a short collection of selected data borrowed from various studies of Biden’s predecessors. This 48-page document, which combines positivity and pragmatism, covers two main aspects of national security: The biggest problems and threats – internal and external – facing the United States and the plans planned to deal with those problems. The most interesting aspect of Biden’s teaching is the division of “threats” to American interests into two categories: The specific national threats of China and Russia, and the more indirect global threats such as terrorism. , arms control and non-proliferation, epidemics. and biosecurity, climate and energy security, food security and so on.

Interestingly, China, referred to as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in many places in this document, is given the largest space in the NSS – in terms of the number of words – as a major threat and competitor in the American view. of the world. No other topic in the document is noted as China’s primary challenge to the United States. Even a cursory glance at the NSS article can reveal that a strong China phobia has gripped American policy makers and they have gradually “upgraded” China to the position of their main rival in the world political arena. the whole.

The timing of the NSS release, which was issued just four days before the opening session of the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, was an obvious attempt by the White House to deliberately anger the Chinese leadership. . Apart from Pelosi’s controversial trip to Taipei, which added a new strain to Sino-US relations, this was the second most provocative action by the Biden administration in the past few months. which provoked Beijing. It was an attempt by hawkish elements in the Biden administration to keep Sino-US tensions high at a time when Democrats were finding it difficult to shore up their dwindling prospects in the midterm elections. a term of Congress.

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More interestingly, President Biden issued an interim NSS in March 2021, and until now, this ad hoc document has been very limited, so there was no rush to release the NSS in this time when the entire Chinese leadership was about to start the most important National Congress. It’s a purposeful challenge on the part of the Biden team, of course. “Our strategy towards the PRC is threefold: first, to invest in the foundations of our strength at home – our competitiveness, our innovation, our integrity, our democracy; secondly, to coordinate our efforts with the network of our allies and partners, working with the same goal and for the same reasons, and thirdly, to compete with the PRC to protect our interests and build our vision for the future,” is how the NSS explains. the trinity of the Biden administration’s strategy to counter Beijing’s ambitions to “become the world’s leading power.”

The three points of Biden’s strategy towards Beijing – invest, coordinate and compete – are not new words for the Chinese, President Biden has been chanting this mantra for a long time.

In fact, while speaking at a conference organized by the Asia Society at George Washington University on May 26, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken for the first time fully exposed the basic ideas of the current thoughts of the White House in China. In his speech, Blinkin also used the same phrase “invest, adapt and compete” to describe the main planks of China’s new government policy.

The US has accepted the undeniable truths

The NSS also appears to have confirmed this policy on domestic intelligence revival – an indirect indication that the Biden administration has a similar approach to former US President Donald Trump’s opposition to leadership. China’s technological boom by strengthening the American home. technical equipment.

The NSS also confirms the fact that American policymakers have now accepted two undeniable truths about China: First, China is the only power with the financial and military power to challenge Washington’s influence. in the world power structure; and second, Washington does not have enough power to change China and its administration anytime soon. That is why we see a “reluctance” to adhere to the “one-China” policy in the NSS, despite the wholehearted support for Taiwan’s self-defense.

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The document also used very clear words when describing the nature and extent of the competition with China: “In the competition with the PRC, as in other arenas, it is clear that the next decade will be a decisive decade. We are now at a turning point, where the decisions we make and our priorities today will set us on a path that will tell us how we will compete long into the future.”

Continuing in the same vein as previous administrations, the NSS plan has placed Russia second on the list of contenders in the global power structure. This also coincides with the approval of NATO’s Strategic Concept at the Madrid summit in July, which is an important strategic document for NATO’s defense and security perspective that is updated every 10 years. keep pace with the changing needs of global security. The new Strategic Concept involves a paradigm shift in NATO’s deterrence and defense with a special focus on new threats and challenges, especially terrorism, cyber attacks and hybrid warfare.

However, there is something completely new in this Strategic Concept and related to China, which is mentioned in the official documents of NATO as a “challenge” to the alliance’s interests, security and values ​​for the first time.

The ‘China threat’ to NATO

The mention of the “China threat” in the NATO strategic document together with the NSS heralds a new type of Cold War between the West and Beijing in the coming days. However, a Cold War-like campaign against Beijing would not work as it did with the Soviet Union in the past. There is one fundamental difference between today’s China and the Soviet Union – or today’s Russia for that matter.

With the exception of weak areas such as Cuba and Vietnam, the influence of the Soviet Union – Russia – was limited to a well-delimited area and it was easy for the US – and NATO – to monitor and control it. Furthermore, most importantly, the Soviet Union and its satellites were not part of global trade and commerce and had little or no influence on global trade and economy at the time. that. On the other hand, today’s China is a completely different entity. The influence of China’s trade and commerce is not limited to any geographical boundary.

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China’s financial influence is visible in all parts of the world, even in the most remote islands of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In terms of modern and hybrid warfare and military capabilities, China competes with the US and its allies in the area of ​​military equipment. For four years, in his so-called trade war against China, Trump has tried everything from imposing high tariffs to imposing restrictions on Chinese goods. But nothing worked for him. It seems to contradict the Chinese, there are many and many levels.

China has changed and improved its economic security shield in response to the changing global political and economic situation. A policy of self-reliance is now “integrated” with the rapid globalization of the yuan as an important target of China’s model to compete with the world’s dollar-based economic framework. . China is well prepared to counter the so-called “containment” policy of the US: Introducing a yuan-base trading system, replacing the “gas yuan” with petrodollars, moving from SWIFT to CIPS and strengthening its power of the sea by obtaining the rights to control major ports throughout the country. the world. Undoubtedly, China is in a position to dominate and control – even destroy – the global supply chain in its own way.

The NSS has firmly accepted the fact that the PRC has become the center of the world economy – accepting that China is not the Soviet Union. Washington cannot afford a new protracted Cold War with Beijing just yet. Although the document also addresses broader global issues, including climate, epidemics and non-proliferation, where the United States is willing to work with China, overall, the tone of the NSS has China’s threat – shows even more angst. Sino-US relations in the future.

*Op-ed contributor based in Karachi, Pakistan

Sabah Daily News

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