US president Donald Trump will call China a strategic “competitor” today when he announces his national security strategy (NSS).
The strategy is divided into four elements: protecting the American people, promoting US prosperity, strengthening the military and advancing US influence.
The NSS outlines a range of threats faced by the US, but singles out China and Russia as “revisionist” powers that are trying to “shape a world antithetical to US values and interests”.
According to the NSS, which is the first formal declaration of Trump’s foreign policy priorities:
After being dismissed as a phenomenon of an earlier century, great power competition returned…China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity.
It adds that Russia “interferes in the domestic political affairs of countries around the world”.
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The Global Times, a nationalist tabloid published by the Chinese Communist party responded to reports of Trump’s national security strategy, calling it “irrational”.
Washington is using its massive strength to recklessly define the behaviour of and relations with other countries. It is the US that has recently become the biggest saboteur of international rules and challenger of free trade.
Last month, when Trump visited Beijing, he warned Chinese president, Xi Jinping, that the two countries’ trading relationship had not been “very fair for the US”.
Anti-China on the presidential campaign
Trump’s anti-China rhetoric is not new.
On the campaign trail last year, he labelled China a “currency manipulator,” and blamed Chinese government policy for creating a US trade deficit with China.
However, he has softened his stance since.
I don’t blame China, I blame the incompetence of past Admins for allowing China to take advantage of the U.S. on trade leading up to a point where the U.S. is losing $100’s of billions. How can you blame China for taking advantage of people that had no clue? I would’ve done same!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 9 November 2017
Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 16 April 2017
Unfair trade practices
While refraining from labelling China as a currency manipulator or blaming the country for the US trade deficit, the NSS does make similar criticisms.
China is “gaining a strategic foothold in Europe” through unfair trade practices and by “investing in key industries, sensitive technologies and infrastructure,” according to the document.
Beyond Europe, the NSS accuses China of expanding its military and economic presence in Africa as well as trying to gain influence in Latin America.
Meanwhile, the NSS refers to countries including North Korea and Iran as “rogue” regimes.