Written by: Daniel Yun
According to historian Victor Davis Hanson, grand strategy is the use of all a state’s military, economic, and diplomatic resources to achieve or further its own interests. However, the challenge with every grand strategy is the state having unlimited aspirations with limited capabilities. The United States needs to develop a viable strategy to contend with China this year. Tensions are already high between the U.S and China over a trade war, the South China Sea dispute and cyber attacks. For the US to gain a competitive advantage over China by the end of 2019, the United States government should focus on denying China technological superiority, countering China’s geoeconomic strategy and developing a new containment policy.
The advent of the 5G network should prompt the US to enact policies to deny China technological superiority in the world. The 5G network is an up and coming technology that is substantially faster than the 4G network and will connect to millions of devices. Huawei, a leading Chinese telecommunications company, is trying to build 5G networks throughout the world. However, on Jan 29, 2019, Huawei was indicted by the United States Justice Department based on evidence of evading economic sanctions on Iran, stealing trade secrets and secretly working with the Chinese government. These indictments were issued in the aftermath of the Polish Government’s arrest of an Huawei employee of espionage charges. If Chinese companies can build 5G wireless networks in the US, the Chinese government could have access to vulnerable communication networks and machines. Allowing China that capability would be devastating if conflict emerged between the two nations. Therefore, the U.S should prevent Chinese companies from building telecommunications networks such as 5G domestically and in other Western allied countries.
China has implemented an excellent geoeconomic strategy to influence countries around the world. Using the disguise of the Silk Road Initiative, China has taken over a major port in Sri Lanka, gained control of a majority of Ecuador’s oil and installed corrupt leaders in Africa to advance its own national interests. The US must provide a response to China’s predatory actions. Although the US cannot compete on the same level as China in terms of the amount of loans, the first step for the US should be to increase investment and support of American companies abroad. More importantly, a more forgiving stance on paying back loans and smaller interests would sway countries away from China’s loans. As the United States military begins the withdrawal process from the Middle East, the revampment of money towards “soft power” policies such as humanitarian aid to countries targeted by China should be implemented.
To counter China’s military aggression in East Asia, the United States must reaffirm commitment to its allies. In regards to China’s provocative policies on Taiwan, the United States must gather support from the international community to support Taiwan’s independence and make clear to China that using military force on Taiwan will cause a retaliatory response. Geopolitically, developing new military partnerships with Vietnam and the Philippines due to their strategic location and vicinity to the South China Sea is imperative. In the last decade, China has been militarized islands, developed anti-ship missiles and purchased more submarines to contest US naval superiority in the South China Sea. In response, the United States military must continue to develop new strategies against evolving Chinese tactics. The Trump administration should also enact more deterrence policies, including a continuous presence of US naval forces in the region to deter China from militarizing more islands as the potential for conflict increases.
From the fall of the Soviet Union to the first decade of the 21st century, the United States has enjoyed complete hegemony in the world. However, the distractions of the War on Terror and the rapid rise of China have caused some foreign policy experts to question US influence in the 21st century. By completing these objectives, the U.S could take back its hegemonic status in the world. However, completing each of these objectives is no easy task. China is a capable adversary, and if the strategies implemented by the United States are enough to provoke a harsh reaction from China, a new cold war could emerge.Then, so be it. The United States has constantly competed with powerful adversaries since the founding of the country. Key examples include competition with the British Empire in the 19th century, a war with a rising Japan and strategies of containment against the Soviet Union. History has proven that the United States is successful competing with an opponent when using a strong unequivocal foreign policy strategy.