This paper is part of a series authored for the 2019 Quarter 4 meeting of the Strategy Consortium. The Atlantic Council commissioned the skeleton strategies by engaging experts with diverse visions for the content of a US strategy toward China. The goal was to cover the entire spectrum of possible responses, ranging from cooperative to hardline.

Vision 2020 builds on the 2017 National Security Strategy and takes the offensive against the Chinese Communist Party’s Stealth War by focusing on the science, technology and economic superiority of America’s free society and that of her allies and partners. Successful execution of this strategy will constrain the Chinese Communist Party’s ability to coerce its neighbors, undermine free-market economies and influence democratic societies.

Protect, Rebuild, Inspire are the three pillars of a strategy that will continue to reshape the international order away from totalitarianism towards the promotion of human rights, democracy, civil liberty, rule of law and economic prosperity. Exploitation of labor and environmental challenges are also confronted as global supply chains are reoriented towards nations that support competitive markets, strong labor protections and environmental standards.

Protect – Building on the idea of trade with democratic nations that support our values, we must continue tariffs and other protective mechanisms, such as Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA). This pillar seeks to refine and export tools that incentivize those nations who play by the rules of fair and open markets to tighten collaboration in economic, finance, trade and information flows. This involves reducing the ability of rule breakers to use US allied and partner nations to exploit the free system’s near-open borders to avoid tariff and other protections. The US will:

  1. Make tariffs permanent for the CCP-led Chinese economy and contingent on an annual vote in the Congress, which considers whether China is a human rights violator and if it has a market-based economy.
  2. Replace the Wassenaar Arrangement with an enforceable economic alliance which seeks to ban the transfer of technology to totalitarian or authoritarian nations who disavow free trade, democratic principles, rule of law and self-determination.
  3. Direct the Department of Labor to allow every person in this country that participates in a public or private pension fund to opt-out of sending their investment dollars to China, and to designate that a portion of their funds be invested in their local communities.
  4. Use the purchasing power of the federal government to ensure all contracts require only US and like-minded ally-built technology be used.
  5. Ensure that companies and countries who access western capital markets for investment and debt adhere to the same GAAP, audit and transparency standards of domestic companies.
  6. Build a robust and resilient locally based C4ISR architecture for the Indo-Pacific to decrease the attractiveness of Chinese targeting of US space-based assets.
  7. Shift defense procurement away from legacy weapon systems to those favoring intermediate range ballistic and cruise missiles based in the first island chain, and hypersonic equivalents based in Alaska.

Rebuild – This will be the focus of effort for the next 5 years. Using President Eisenhower’s preference for military deterrence, this pillar involves a massive movement in fiscal spending away from guns towards butter. By focusing on infrastructure, industrial base and energy, STEM education and research & development (R&D) the US will rebuild its core economic and science and technological superiority to lead the world once again. The US will:

  1. Shift 100 billion dollars from the defense budget to a massive R&D and reindustrialization effort focused on quantum computing, AI/ML, 5G and telecommunications, IoT, nuclear and carbon-free energy, data science, cryptocurrency, biopharma, robotics, logistics and transportation. Protect these investments with a robust counter-intelligence program designed to ensure the benefits of these investments accrue only to America and her allies and partners.
  2. Use the national security authority of the President to allocate sub-6GHz spectrum towards companies willing to build nationwide secure 5G networks with no back doors based on identity management, encryption and access control, and share it with democratic allies and partners.
  3. Create a private infrastructure bank for America modeled on the Federal Home Loan Bank System.
  4. Commit to a 120-day federal infrastructure project approval process for any project with private investment commitment exceeding 50 million dollars – all denials must be approved by the President.
  5. Commit 25 billion dollars of the defense budget to STEM scholarships for American students in US universities.

Inspire – America will be builders not breakers. Leveraging the legacy of the Marshall Plan in Western Europe, America will join with developed allies and partners to create a strategic economic development plan that seeks to promote collective economic prosperity tied to democratic principles and rule of law. The US will:

  1. Forge a new consensus with a global network of allied nations, along with their private sector companies, that collectively seeks to grow promising developing nations who agree to adhere to the principles of free trade, human rights, rule of law and self-determination.
  2. Unite the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Export/Import Bank (EXIM), U.S. Trade and Development Agency (TDA), Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) under one Director of the Office of Strategic International Economic Development. This organization will work with like-minded developed nations to identify and promote the economic prosperity and institutional integrity of like-minded developing partners.
  3. Consolidate Foreign Military Sales (FMS), International Military Education and Training (IMET), Foreign Military Financing (FMF) policy, strategy and approval authority under a Director of Strategic Military Investment who also serves as the Deputy Director of the Office of Strategic International Economic Development.
  4. Develop a Global Fund for Democratic Infrastructure Investment, which seeks to analyze the global trading routes and infrastructure to invest in a robust, resilient international logistics architecture which promotes free trade, secure and verifiable customs procedures and the collective economic prosperity of like-minded nations.
  5. Develop an international data tracking system to clearly show where America, allied nations and their companies are investing to help smaller companies and institutional investors take advantage of the accompanying economic growth prospects.

The Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative (FSR) provides actionable foresight and innovative strategies to a global community of policymakers, business leaders, and citizens.