Commentary on Political Economy

Tuesday, 1 December 2020


U.S. Urged to Do More Against Rising Threat of Aggressive China

Bloomberg News
Updated on 
  • China’s leaders sees U.S. values as existential threat: report
  • Panel was established by Congress to highlight China’s threats
Competition between the U.S. and China had intensified under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, the authors warned that the time for action is now.
Competition between the U.S. and China had intensified under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, the authors warned that the time for action is now. Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg

The U.S. should ratchet up its demands of China to include equal access for companies and media, stricter monitoring of Beijing’s activities at the UN and preventive action to safeguard American interests in technology and finance, a bipartisan panel told Congress on Tuesday.

575-page report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission -- created by Congress to track and anticipate threats from China -- characterized the world’s second-largest economy as a threat to the current international order that has American values at its core. And it said China’s leaders view those values as a barrier to the country’s external ambitions and an existential threat to their rule.

“Chinese leaders’ assessment of the United States as a dangerous and firmly committed opponent has informed nearly every facet of China’s diplomatic strategy, economic policy, and military planning in the post-Cold War era,” the panel said.

Amid a continuing U.S. effort to roll back China’s dominance in next-generation 5G communications, the role of technology emerges as a clear theme throughout the annual report. The study said Beijing uses the establishment of technical standards as a way to “advance an alternative technological order.”

It also warned that China’s effort at financial opening was part of a “calculated strategy” to secure foreign investment inflows and use them to shore up the domestic economy. This would increase exposure to unique risks in China’s financial system for foreign investors, the report said.

“China is an adversary presenting unique and immediate threats to our economic and security interests,” Robin Cleveland, chairman of the commission, said in an opening statement. Cleveland said the report reflected “an understanding that the challenges posed by the Chinese Communist Party are not partisan – they are American concerns.”

The analysis also looked at areas including military capabilities, trade relations, public health and Covid-19-related issues, as well as Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Beijing’s national security law for the former British colony had “significantly compromised” the rule of law and press freedom, the report found. “Under growing pressure from the CCP, the territory’s judicial system has been thrown into crisis as judges are compelled to adopt mainland legal principles and CCP positions,” the report said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.

A statement from Hong Kong’s government described the report as “yet another example” of U.S. interference in Hong Kong’s affairs, using “democracy and self-determination as an excuse.” The statement continued, saying “such groundless and unjust political maneuvers will achieve nothing but undermining Hong-Kong-U.S. relations and hurting the U.S.’s own interests.”

Competition between the U.S. and China had intensified under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, the authors wrote, and they argued that the time for action is now.

“If Beijing succeeds in normalizing its views of governance, the result could undermine individual rights around the world,” the commission said. “Underestimating Beijing’s intent to revise the international order based on its current capabilities risks delaying a response until it is already too late to preserve the liberal international order.”

The report makes 19 recommendations, highlighting 10 of those as being of “particular significance.” They include urging that the U.S. Congress:

  • Expand the authority of the Federal Trade Commission to monitor and take foreign government subsidies into account when looking at company mergers.
  • Direct the State Department to produce an annual report detailing China’s actions in the United Nations and its agencies that subvert the principles and purposes of the organization.

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