The US is afraid of China, but even more – of the rapprochement between China and Russia

On February 5, the USS 7th Fleet destroyer John McCain entered the South China Sea with missiles on board

The US is afraid of China, but even more - of the rapprochement between China and Russia

The perception of China as a strategic competitor to the United States has been developing among Americans for many years. And more recently, there have been signs that leading think tanks that influence decision-making are beginning to understand the contours of a single strategy.

In July 2020, The China Strategy Group was created in the United States on the initiative and under the leadership of former Google Director and Chairman of the Defense Innovation Council under the Ministry of Defense Eric Schmidt. At the end of 2020, the Group released its first report, Asymmetric Competition: A Strategy for China and Technology. Practical Ideas for American Leadership.

Thirteen authors of the report offer recommendations for areas such as: requirements regarding US dependence on foreign companies; exploration, scientific capacity drain and supply chain; increasing the role of expertise in political decision-making; construction of a new “technological state”.

The authors of the report also propose a new formula for multilateral relations, namely, the creation of the T-12 forum as part of such states as the USA, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, South Korea, Finland, Sweden, India and Australia.

“America’s technological leadership is fundamental to its security, prosperity and democratic lifestyles. And that vital advantage is now threatened as China seeks to overtake the United States in a number of critical areas. If left unaddressed, the US position will continue to weaken even more as Beijing gains strength and influence… This challenge requires urgent political decisions…” – the introduction of the report begins with these words.

The findings note that “the internal US dialogue on security issues related to Chinese technology has begun to revolve around a small set of topics: the threat of a specific Chinese video application; battle for 5G; the preponderance of the risks of highly skilled immigration over its benefits. At the same time, the report acknowledges that many important questions regarding the development of a strategy towards China, especially in the field of Chinese technologies, remain unanswered.

China is also receiving great attention in the latest work of the RAND Corporation “Changes in the US regional security policy in order to implement the Grand Containment Strategy”. It talks a lot about the threats China poses to the US in Asia.

For example, that China is developing cyber capabilities that can harm critical US infrastructure, and is also developing anti-space assets, including suppression systems, directed energy weapons and ground-based anti-satellite missiles that target commercial and military satellites.

The use of force against the PRC remains part of the American foreign policy agenda when it comes to defending Taiwan. American supporters of China’s containment speak of the importance of maintaining American dominance in the Asia-Pacific region, believing that “as China grows, it will expand the disputed zone, airspace and zone on its maritime periphery, within which it could make US military operations costly or complicate them …”.

Among American supporters of the concept of containing China, there are differences on two important points: the scale of Beijing’s claims and the willingness of other countries to act in concert with the United States in opposing the Chinese.

Disagreements on these issues give rise to various political recipes that range “from a significant reduction in military spending in the Asia-Pacific region to an increase in the US military presence in the region”. There is unanimity, however, that China is the greatest potential threat to US interests.

At the same time, US supporters of containing China point to “several areas in which the United States and China have common interests”. This is the fight against climate change, terrorism, preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. “In addition, both countries are striving for stability on the Korean Peninsula”.

The United States is very closely following the development of relations between Russia and China. Andrea Kendall-Taylor and David Shulman, two former American career intelligence agents, give a detailed assessment of the interaction between Beijing and Moscow in the context of US interests. They write:

“The cooperation of the two countries [Russia and the PRC] is accelerating their efforts to undermine the US military advantages… Russia is already providing China with advanced weapons systems that enhance the capabilities of China’s air defense, anti-ship and submarine forces… Both countries are increasing technological cooperation, which ultimately could enable them to jointly innovate faster than the United States… Ultimately, sustained and deeper Sino-Russian cooperation would jeopardize America’s ability to contain Chinese aggression in the region… “

Moreover, American analysts note that Russia and China are working to reduce the central role of the United States in the global economic system. Moscow and Beijing are working together to avoid US sanctions and export controls and to mitigate the effects of US economic pressure. If their partnership deepens, it could reduce the effectiveness of US financial enforcement instruments, especially sanctions and export controls as an important part of US foreign policy arsenal.

But the Jewish Institute for National Security of the United States is more concerned about China’s growing investment in Israel (for example, in 2019, China signed a 25-year contract for the construction and operation of a port in Haifa).

The Biden administration has now launched its first naval operation, which can be seen as a direct challenge to Beijing. On February 5, the 7th Fleet destroyer John McCain, with missiles on board, entered the South China Sea.

Leonid Savin, Federal Grid Company

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