During the days of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, Washington and Moscow were engaged in an ideological and geopolitical struggle for global influence, characterized by competition for economic, military, and technological superiority.
Today we are engaged in another such struggle with a Communist regime that seeks to overtake as the world superpower and is competing with us for influence on the global stage.
The first cold war was characterized by a lack of large scale fighting, instead, Washington and Moscow engaged in a struggle for dominance through espionage, embargoes, economic pressure, technological competitions, and proxy wars, many of which we are seeing today as the U.S. and China vie for control.
For American leaders, one of the biggest challenges is to convince the American people that China is indeed an enemy who seeks to destroy our very way of life and that we are engaged in a struggle much like the first Cold War with the Soviet Union.
China began its rise to power after the fall of the Soviet Union and with the help of the Western World. In 1972 Richard Nixon visited China to gain leverage over the Soviet Union and hoped that rebuilding the country would lead to economic prosperity, with America being able to tap into China’s huge potential.
Unfortunately, instead of changing China into a democracy-loving country and an ally, China has taken advantage of America through years of unfair trade practices and adopted a large scale strategy to undermine the U.S. and our allies.
Because the United States and other countries desired to bring China into the modern world and eventually access China’s huge market.
“For decades the US government has freely handed over sensitive information, technology, military know-how, intelligence, and expert advice to the Chinese. Indeed, so much has been provided for so long that . . . there is no full accounting. And what we haven’t given the Chinese, they’ve stolen.” writes Michael Pillsbury.
The Chinese are also engaged in a wide-scale espionage program according to a new report, a “deliberate, state-sponsored effort to circumvent the costs of research, overcome cultural disadvantages and ‘leapfrog’ to the forefront by leveraging the creativity of other nations.” In 2018 it was reported that China hacked a Navy contractor and secured a trove of highly sensitive data on submarine warfare, which is just the latest instance of “one of the most widespread, relentless, and successful industrial and technological espionage programs in history.”
In addition, China’s economy has grown exponentially since opening up its markets to the outside world in 1979. With an average economic growth of 10% annually, it is now the world’s second-largest economy behind only the United States and is on course to have the world’s largest GDP in absolute terms by 2030. Also worrying is China’s rapidly growing technological capabilities and ongoing efforts to develop advanced weaponry and systems.
The United States won the cold war due to the Soviet Union’s inability to match America’s technological and economic superiority. But the same may not apply to China, whose economy is much stronger compared to America’s than the USSR’s ever was, and whose technological capabilities continue to grow, setting the stage for a much large struggle.
Just like the cold war we fought against the Soviet Union, we now face a new cold war with China. A communist regime that seeks to undermine our global influence, and with which we are engaged in an ideological struggle of tyranny versus freedom.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a painful reminder of the danger Beijing’s communist regime poses to the world. It is a wake-up call for countries around the world to take a stand against China’s totalitarian government, which regularly commits human rights violations, oppresses its people in a brutal attempt to remain in power, and is a threat to democracy everywhere.
Under President Reagan, The United States implemented a policy of supporting nations that were willing to resist Soviet pressure or opposed the Soviet Union and their policies. Today, the U.S. has the opportunity to take advantage of the rising anger and mistrust directed at China, due to the pandemic, by creating strong relationships with countries who are fed up with Beijing and willing to stand up to their regime.
The Eastern Hemisphere is an area of crucial importance to the U.S. and strengthening bonds with current allies in the region, along with forging new alliances will be crucial to maintaining leverage over China and provide us with crucial partners in strategic locations.
We must also develop a plan to end China’s dominance of critical supplies and infrastructure, bring back domestic manufacturing, give economic know how to friendly governments in the region, and invest in Western hemisphere countries. As put forth by the Monroe Doctrine in 1823,
building and maintaining strong economic ties between America and its neighbors is crucial to increasing the influence of the United States around the world. This will also allow for heavier economic pressure on Beijing and give Washington further leverage in the current conflict.
As detailed by a CNAS report, history shows us that the U.S. military “has proven adept at finding the most competitive “fit.” It has a demonstrated ability to question the status quo, to take risks and experiment, and adopt new technologically enabled operational concepts that confound its opponents. If it hopes to upset the Chinese offset, it will need to do so again.”
Much like the United States faced down the Soviet Union and smashed Communism in the 1900s, America must again face an enemy intent on overtaking us as the world’s superpower. We must wake up to the fact that we have entered a new cold war and take the necessary steps to protect our freedom and defeat America’s biggest geopolitical threat of the 21st century.
“As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it, now or ever.” — Ronald Reagan