The Ideology Delusion America’s Competition With China Is Not About Doctrine
Bipartisanship is exotic these days in the United States, but the two parties do share something: a deep concern about China. Asked in February at the Munich Security Conference whether she agreed with U.S. President Donald Trump’s China policy, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi remarked dryly but tellingly: “We have agreement in that regard.” Legislation supporting Hong Kong and Taiwan and sanctioning Chinese officials easily passed Congress this year. Unlike in the past, today China has few—if any—friends in the corridors of power in Washington.
Even beyond Congress, though, there is wide agreement forming across the political spectrum about why China poses a threat to the United States. For many, it is above all because China is an oppressive one-party state, governed by a Marxist-Leninist cadre, whose leader, Xi Jinping, has amassed more personal power than anyone in Beijing since Mao Zedong. Both the Trump administration and Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden have lambasted China for its execrable human rights record, which includes, among other brutalities, putting a million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps. The leading Democratic Party-aligned foreign policy thinkers Kurt Campbell and Jake Sullivan wrote in these pages last year: “China may ultimately present a stronger ideological challenge than the Soviet Union did. . . . China’s rise to superpower status will exert a pull toward autocracy. China’s fusion of authoritarian capitalism and digital surveillance may prove more durable and attractive than Marxism.”