Three Reasons why the US is on the Road to win the Competition with China « Khabarhub
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Three Reasons why the US is on the Road to win the Competition with China



US-China relations are becoming increasingly tense. China has been simultaneously provoking many countries and the US has stepped in to counter this behavior.

But for other countries in the world, the most important question influencing long-term planning is: which side is likely to prevail, the US or China?

Indeed, there are three reasons why the US is on the road to win the competition with China: the US is far more popular than China, the US is still more powerful than China, and the US has a long-term plan to defeat China.

The US is far more Popular than China

The number of formal treaty-based alliances the US has entered into is just one indication of this. The US has many formal allies including NATO, Central and South American countries, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan (52 in total), but China’s only formal ally is North Korea.

Indeed, its popularity is a very important factor in determining which side eventually dominates. For example, in World War I, the winning side comprised 32 countries, but the losing side was composed of just four countries.

In World War II, the winning side had 54 countries, but the losing alliance consisted of only eight countries. During the US-Soviet Cold War, the winning side had 54 countries allied with it, but the defeated side comprised of 26 countries.

China’s popularity has been damaged by its obfuscation and denial before and during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

China imposed economic sanctions against Australia when that country called for an independent investigation into the origins of the virus.

The US policy toward China has three aspects. Militarily, the US has tried to maintain a balance. Economically, the US has tried to decouple China and reduce its budgetary advantages. In the humanitarian realm, the US has demanded that China respect “Western values.”

China has also provoked neighbors like Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines with its military and paramilitary activities.

Last year, 5,000 Chinese troops entered the Indian side of the Indo-China border area and killed 20 Indian soldiers. And China retaliated against Canada when it arrested a top Chinese tech executive, Meng Wanzhou. 

China’s human rights violations have been getting worse against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, and in Hong Kong, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, and other parts of China as well.

It is evident to the world that China does not respect the rule of law or the values and interests of international society. This is in sharp contrast to the US.

As a result, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center, unfavorable views toward China reached historically high levels in many countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, the UK, the US, Spain, and Sweden.

China has tried to repair its image by investing in infrastructure projects in developing countries through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and delivering Coronavirus vaccines to countries in need.

However, China’s infrastructure projects are financed at very high-interest rates that China controls, creating huge debt for recipients.

After China took control of the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka with a 99-year lease, many countries started to doubt its intentions. China’s BRI is not beneficial for locals. America’s more favorable image in the eyes of these countries remains a huge advantage against China.

The US is still more Powerful than China

The United States National Security Strategy was published in December 2017 and clearly labeled China as a challenger.

Since then, the US-China high-tech war, trade war, and military confrontations have escalated. According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics figures published in 2018, the US invested USD 476 billion for technological research and development and China invested USD 370 billion. That gap is very small.

However, it is also true that the US has important advantages. From an overall economic perspective, US GDP was USD 19.39 trillion compared with China’s USD 12.24 trillion, according to the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database for 2018.

Also, according to the Military Balance 2018, published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the US defense budget was USD 603 billion compared with China’s USD 150 billion. This is a large gap.

Recently, the Centre for Economics and Business Research predicted that China will overtake the US to become the world’s largest economy by 2028.

On March 25, US President Biden remarked in his first press conference, “China has an overall goal, and I don’t criticize them for the goal, but they have an overall goal to become the leading country in the world, the wealthiest country in the world, and the most powerful country in the world.

Although the current Biden administration is reviewing the feasibility of the schedule to withdraw, it is expected that the long-term course on China will remain similar to that of the Trump administration. 

That’s not going to happen on my watch because the United States is going to continue to grow and expand.” True, China is narrowing the gap, and it is serious about doing so.

However, it is also a fact that China has not overtaken the US yet. If the US accelerates its efforts now, it will gain an advantage over China.

The US has a Long-term plan to Defeat China

There is a strong possibility that the US has a long-term plan to win the competition with China, and its recent policy to counter China’s provocations indicates strategic consistency. 

The US policy toward China has three aspects. Militarily, the US has tried to maintain a balance. Economically, the US has tried to decouple China and reduce its budgetary advantages. In the humanitarian realm, the US has demanded that China respect “Western values.”

 In June 2020, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained why the number of US troops in Germany has been reduced and why US troops had also withdrawn from Syria and Afghanistan: “This is going to dictate that in certain places there will be fewer American resources.

There’ll be other places—I just talked about the threat from the Chinese Communist Party, so now threats to India, threats to Vietnam, threats to Malaysia, Indonesia, South China Sea challenges, the Philippines. We’re going to make sure we’re postured appropriately to counter the PLA [the Chinese People’s Liberation Army]. We think that’s the challenge of our time, and we’re going to make sure we have resources in place to do that.” 

This is an appropriate strategy because China tends to expand its territorial claim when it finds a power vacuum. For example, China occupied half of the Paracel Islands just after France withdrew in the 1950s, and occupied another half of the Paracel Islands one year after the US withdrew from South Vietnam in 1974.

China occupied six features of the Spratly Islands after the Soviet Union decreased its military presence in Vietnam in the 1980s.

And in 1995, China occupied Mischief Reef three years after US troops withdrew from the Philippines. Therefore, maintaining a military counterbalance is the proper way for the US to respond.

Although the current Biden administration is reviewing the feasibility of the schedule to withdraw, it is expected that the long-term course on China will remain similar to that of the Trump administration. 

It is true that the number of democratic countries is still bigger than the number of non-democratic countries. But if other countries believe that non-democratic China is a model for success, the US will increasingly lose political influence in the future.

In its economic policy toward China, the US could afford to take a more aggressive posture because both China’s rapid military modernization and the Belt and Road Initiative are dependent on an ample budget.

Reducing China’s budgetary advantages could thereby ease China-related problems. During the Trump administration, both the trade war and the high-tech war excluded China’s participation in the US economy. So far, the Biden administration has continued this policy. 

The US has also focused on humanitarian issues with regard to China. In May 2020, the White House published the United States Strategic Approach to The People’s Republic of China. 

In this document, the US government clearly mentions three challenges to US interests from China: economic challenges, challenges to our values, and security challenges.

And in January 2021, Pompeo determined that China’s atrocities in Xinjiang were “genocide,” a charge that the Biden administration has also repeated.

In the US, there is concern that the number of democratic countries worldwide has been declining. According to Freedom House, the number of “free countries” declined from 89 in 2005 to 82 in 2020, and the number of “not free” countries increased from 45 to 54.

It is true that the number of democratic countries is still bigger than the number of non-democratic countries. But if other countries believe that non-democratic China is a model for success, the US will increasingly lose political influence in the future.

Accordingly, the US has stepped up its efforts to promote democratic norms and values in its relations with China.

Indeed, there is a strong possibility that such tough stances toward China will remain long-term policy for three reasons.

First, during its 244-year history, the US has taken only 169 years to transform from a single colony of the British Empire into the world’s only superpower, and it has maintained this status for 75 years.

The US is far more popular, still more powerful, and has a long-term plan to win the competition with China. The rest of the world must not forget these facts as they set up their own strategies accordingly. Simply stated, cooperation with the US is beneficial and in their own national interests.

During this time, all rivals of the US, including Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union, disappeared. It is likely that the US has developed a long-term strategy to prepare for a serious challenge from China.

For example, during World War II, the US had an “Orange Plan” to defeat Japan and implemented it. But when these plans were declassified in 1974, the world was surprised to learn that there was also a “Red Plan” to defeat Britain and Canada.

(Canada was very upset.) Because the US designated China as a “competitor” in the National Security Strategy in 2017, one can assume that it has a contingency plan to defeat China as part of its long-term strategy.

Second, the tough stance toward China is not the product of the Trump administration alone. For example, the high-tech war, which banned products from Huawei and ZTE, started when the Investigative Report on the U.S. National Security Issues Posed by Chinese Telecommunications Companies Huawei and ZTE was published in 2012, during Barack Obama’s presidency.

The Biden administration has not changed the essence of the China policy that the Trump administration developed. Republicans and Democrats share many similar goals toward China.

Third, now is the proper time for the US to act if it wants to remain ahead of China. The power balance mentioned above indicates that the US still retains the upper hand.

The US has stepped up its efforts in a way and at a pace that accords with the perceived threat.

The US is far more popular, still more powerful, and has a long-term plan to win the competition with China. The rest of the world must not forget these facts as they set up their own strategies accordingly. Simply stated, cooperation with the US is beneficial and in their own national interests.

(Dr. Satoru Nagao is a Fellow (Non-Resident) at Hudson Institute, US, and he has written this opinion exclusively for Khabarhub. Copyright: Khabarhub)

Publish Date : 05 August 2021 08:28 AM

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