State Department publishes plan to confront China’s rise, sustain US superpower role

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The United States has drafted a plan of almost 80 pages outlining the threats and responses needed to counter challenges presented by China, including the “refashioning” of US foreign policy.

“Meeting the China challenge requires the United States to return to the fundamentals,” according to the 74-page document published by the US State Department earlier this week.

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Titled “Elements of the China Challenge,” the paper lists ten different tasks needed to ensure the US maintains its place in what it calls the new era of great-power competition.

In the run-up to the presidential elections, which he is still refusing to concede, US President Donald Trump ditched decades of efforts to cooperate with China and declared it a strategic rival.

Relations have since plunged to their lowest level in decades amid US attempts to push back against Beijing’s bid to spread its influence globally.

Washington has taken action to restrict the activities of Chinese technology companies, imposed sanctions on Chinese officials over crackdowns on minority Muslims and Hong Kong’s democracy movement, and urged countries to cooperate in confronting the security threat posed by China.

Beijing has denounced the efforts as showing a “Cold War mentality.”

The following is a breakdown of the ten tasks needed to be carried out by the US, according to the State Department document:

1. Secure freedom in the US by preserving constitutional government and fostering a robust civil society.

2. Maintain the world’s most powerful, agile, and technologically sophisticated military and enhance security cooperation with allies and partners.

3. Fortify the free, open, and rules-based international order, which is composed of sovereign nation-states and based on respect for human rights and fidelity to the rule of law.

4. Reevaluate alliance system and international organizations in which the US participates to determine where they benefit the US and where they fall short.

5. Strengthen alliance system by more effectively sharing responsibilities and build new ones rooted in freedom, democracy, national sovereignty, human rights, and the rule of law.

6. Promote US interests by looking for opportunities to cooperate with Beijing subject to norms of fairness and reciprocity, constrain and deter China when circumstances require and support those in China who seek freedom.

7. Educate US citizens about the scope and implications of the China challenge because this is the only way they can be expected to back the complex mix of demanding policies that the US must adopt to secure freedom.

8. Train a new generation of public servants — in diplomacy, military affairs, finance, economics, science and technology, and other fields — and public policy thinkers who not only attain fluency in Chinese and acquire extensive knowledge of China’s culture and history, but who also attain fluency in the languages, and acquire extensive knowledge of the cultures and histories.

9. Reform US education, equip students to shoulder responsibilities of citizenship in a free and democratic society by understanding America’s legacy of liberty. Prepare them to meet the special demands of a complex, information-age, globalized economy for expertise in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

10. Champion the principles of freedom through example. Sanctions may be needed in more difficult circumstances as well as other forms of non-military pressure. If the nation’s vital interests are at stake and all else has failed, military force may also be used.

In the document, Washington cites China’s “recklessness” in allowing the coronavirus to spread across the globe and cause one of the deadliest pandemics in decades. Beijing took part in disinformation campaigns to cover up its responsibility, the paper said. “Yet many people lack a proper understanding of the character and scope of the China challenge,” the report said.

The State Department accused China of developing its capabilities with the “long-term goal of achieving global preeminence and placing a socialist stamp on world order.”

The State Department also commended the Trump administration’s decision to break with conventional wisdom and develop a new China strategy.

“The purpose of this unclassified Policy Planning Staff paper is to step back and take a long-term view, elaborate the elements of the China challenge, and sketch a framework for the fashioning of sturdy policies that stand above bureaucratic squabbles and interagency turf battles and transcend short-term election cycles. The United States’ overarching aim should be to secure freedom.”

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- with Reuters