A competitor is someone with whom you play a game of tennis. Or, someone who makes a widget just like yours that you both try to sell to the same client, who wants to buy just one. After a competition, you relax over beers and laugh about the game. President Joe Biden infamously called China a “competitor” rather than an enemy during the 2020 electioneering. He misled America.
The Chinese regime is an enemy for two main reasons.
First, it wants to displace democracies with its own power structure, centered in Beijing. And China isn’t just an enemy of democracies, but of any country that wants to remain independent of the Middle Kingdom. Since 1974, China has attacked Vietnam with more animus than nearby democracies, because Vietnam lacks allies and is therefore relatively powerless against China. Democracies and autocracies are in the same boat on a rising and angry river flowing from Zhongnanhai.
Second, China means business. We aren’t just playing ping pong or doing “win-win” trade with China. Rather, we send our Navy to the South China Sea, where the Chinese navy tracks our ships with increasingly powerful nuclear weapons that have names like “carrier killers.” Beijing is trying to scare America out of the Western Pacific, where the United States is protecting allies like South Korea and the Philippines. Japan and Taiwan buy our jet fighters for the defense of their airspace from Chinese and Russian fighters and bombers that almost daily test their boundaries.
Beijing wants to wipe Taiwan off the map as an independent democracy, and like a boxer, it’s dancing around Taipei with fake jabs, tiring it for the sucker punch. After Taiwan, the rest of Asia becomes the regime’s target.
Robert Spalding, a former Air Force B-52 and B-2 pilot who wrote the book “Stealth War: How China Took Over While America’s Elite Slept,” emailed me about how the fight with China is turning technological. As a brigadier general, he wrote a 5G strategy for the National Security Council under President Donald Trump that clashed with telecom lobbyists and got him booted out the door. He’s a proven patriot and truth-teller.
“The CCP needs access to US technology,” Spalding wrote in an email. “Everyone knows they are stealing, but the CCP wants that process to continue uninterrupted. They realize that if they are cut off from technology, their strategy will be impacted. Their best defense is to encourage free societies that protecting their citizens from this predation is somehow discriminatory. If they are successful, you will see the continued erosion of the prosperity of the free world and the recognition that China’s model is superior. This is their goal.”
The Group of Seven (G-7) and NATO countries are starting to coordinate and cut China off from trade and technology, the CCP’s lifeblood. It’s apparently just now dawning on us that China under Xi Jinping is an enemy, although our leaders won’t say so out loud because our businesses are making too much money trading with the enemy. We’ve got too much skin in their game. Verbalization of the obvious could escalate “tensions,” which is exactly what China is now doing. Beijing banks on the assumption that democracies are too compromised, weak, and scared to fight back.
Victor Gao, a former Chinese diplomat who now works for the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing, recently said that more and more people in China see the United States as an enemy.
“The G-7 and NATO have been distorted into anti-China platforms,” he told the Financial Times. “There are increasingly large forces in China that believe if the U.S. wants to single out China as its fundamental enemy, then let the U.S. have an enemy.
“In the long term, China will have a larger economy than the U.S.—no one can change that. Time is on China’s side.”
All China has to do to become a global hegemon is continue to develop its economy; compromise our politicians and academics with lucrative consulting deals that skew their China analysis towards the soporific; steal American, European, Japanese, and allied technology; and continue to build its military at a faster rate than that of the United States and its allies. When China’s military and economy are definitively superior to those of the United States, in five, 10, or 20 years, Beijing can start to edge us back using nuclear brinkmanship and incremental grabs of territory.
The CCP has been following this strategy successfully for decades in Asia, and with no logical territorial limit as they ignore established borders and norms. Western democracies will have little stomach for that kind of fight when it reaches Guam, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia. Or, will we?
Anders Corr has a bachelor’s/master’s in political science from Yale University (2001) and a doctorate in government from Harvard University (2008). He’s a principal at Corr Analytics Inc., publisher of the Journal of Political Risk, and has conducted extensive research in North America, Europe, and Asia. He authored “The Concentration of Power” (forthcoming in 2021) and “No Trespassing,” and edited “Great Powers, Grand Strategies.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.