Former senior government official provides unprecedented insights into China’s internal politics and proposes US strategies for contending with China’s rise
WASHINGTON, DC – January 28, 2021 – Today, the Atlantic Council published an extraordinary new strategy paper that offers the most insightful and rigorous examination to date of Chinese geopolitical strategy and what American strategy should look like in response. Written by a former senior government official with deep expertise and experience dealing with China, the strategy lays out a comprehensive approach, and the ways to execute it, in terms which will invite comparison with George Kennan’s historic 1946 Long Telegram on Soviet grand strategy.
The focus of the paper is China’s leader and his behavior. “The single most important challenge facing the United States in the twenty-first century is the rise of an increasingly authoritarian China under President and General Secretary Xi Jinping,” it says. “US strategy must remain laser-focused on Xi, his inner circle, and the Chinese political context in which they rule. Changing their decision-making will require understanding, operating within, and changing their political and strategic paradigm. All US policy aimed at altering China’s behavior should revolve around this fact, or it is likely to prove ineffectual.”
The article proposes five US red lines for dealing with China: nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons actions by China against the United States or its allies; a military attack against Taiwan; military action against Japanese forces; major hostile Chinese action in the South China Sea; and any Chinese attack against the sovereign territory or military assets of US treaty allies.
The author of this body of work has requested to remain anonymous, and the Atlantic Council granted this request. The Council has not taken this measure before, but it made the decision to do so given the significance of the author’s insights and recommendations as the United States confronts the signature geopolitical challenge of the era. The views in the piece are the author’s own. The Council will not be confirming the author’s identity unless and until the author decides to take that step.
“As China rapidly increases its political and economic reach during this period of historic geopolitical crisis, this moment calls for an urgent, thorough understanding of its strategy and power structure,” said Frederick Kempe, Atlantic Council president and CEO. “The Atlantic Council chose to publish this exceptional paper because it offers unparalleled insights that can guide decision-makers towards focused policies effective at countering China’s authoritarian model. This will be the most acute challenge of our time, and this perspective requires full attention from our leaders.”
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