The New Cold War with the Chinese Government

The Geopolitical Struggle for Leadership in Advanced Technology will determine whether the 21st Century Stays the American Century

Dec 20, 2021. | By Will Hurd

Tyranny is Never Invincible

Photo Credit: Kin Cheung/AP

The Chinese Government is trying to replace the United States of America as the sole global superpower, and if we are going to prevent this from happening then we will have to do a lot more than stage a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics. This is not my opinion. I didn’t come to this conclusion from collecting intelligence on the Chinese Government when I was in the National Clandestine Service of the CIA. This conclusion isn’t some interpretation of a Confucian saying. This is what the Chinese Government has said about themselves in English since at least May 2015. 

Every American should care about this New Cold War with the Government of China because we face a potential future where Mandarin and the yuan, not English and the dollar, dominate the global economy. Whichever country wins this generation-defining struggle will not just affect our economy but will shape the rest of the century for the entire world.

Here is why I call it a “New Cold War:

  • While we are not shooting at each other with conventional weapons yet, the word “war” can describe our relationship because the Chinese Government has made it clear that their most important overriding foreign policy objective is to replace the United States of America as the sole global superpower by 2049. 

  • This conflict is currently “cold” because the Chinese Communist Party is willing to use all means at their disposal, to include armed aggression if they must, to achieve this objective.
  • This conflict is “new” because it’s occurring with a “frenemy” who is a peer and potentially a superior -- not a “near-peer.”

Let me be clear about an important point: this New Cold War is with the Government of China, not the Chinese people nor Chinese culture. This conflict is definitely not with Chinese Americans. The discrimination and hatred that our Asian American brothers and sisters have had to endure over the last few years because of racism associated with the pandemic has been entirely unacceptable. 

  • Over the past year, one out of every five of our Asian American and Pacific Islander fellow citizens have experienced a hate incident and we all have a responsibility to help stop this hate. 

As a government and as a society we must be clear-eyed that our adversary is not the Chinese people nor folks of Chinese descent, but our adversary is the Chinese Government

As a government and as a society we must be clear-eyed that our adversary is not the Chinese people nor folks of Chinese descent, but our adversary is the Chinese Government; An authoritarian government run by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that imprisons its own people for dissenting, wipes any traces off the internet of people that fall out of favor with the government, and forces their own ethnic minority populations into concentration camps for “reform.” For years, the CCP has threatened global supply chains, economically bullied smaller countries and stolen American intellectual property by orchestrating some of the largest data breaches in U.S. history.

Chinese and American Currency

The U.S. and China can and should coexist. Maintaining peaceful relations and a profitable trade relationship with China should be the preferred outcome of this geopolitical struggle. The economies of the U.S. and China are intertwined in a way we never were with the former USSR or Russia. China is a major customer for U.S. businesses, and it is integral to the supply chains of American industry.

  • China will become the world’s largest economy by mid-century, if it hasn’t already, while the U.S. will potentially sink to third place in global GDP ranking, behind India. 

...we must be able to out-innovate our competition and build alliances that will administer consequences when global rules are broken.

To deal with a Chinese government more interested in rewriting international laws and norms rather than adhering to them, we must be able to out-innovate our competition and build alliances that will administer consequences when global rules are broken. In two weeks, I will talk about what is required to refresh our political operating system so that it doesn’t get distracted by culture wars, but can instead take the necessary steps to ensure this century stays our century -- an American reboot. 

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