Wake up to Xi's cold war declaration before it goes hot

Chinese President
Xi Jinping
just declared cold war against America.

In his recent address at the National People’s Congress, Xi lamented what he described as a U.S.-led effort by the West to adopt “all-round containment, encirclement and suppression against us, bringing unprecedentedly severe challenges to our country’s development.” Expanding on this hawkish sentiment, new Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang warned on Tuesday, “If the U.S. does not hit the brakes but continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent a derailment, and there will surely be conflict and confrontation.”

In short, conflict is inevitable unless the United States gives
space to establish its international supremacy.

This rhetoric should end the delusions of those who claim mutually beneficial compromise between the U.S. and China should continue to be the goal of policymakers. The unfortunate truth is that compromise is possible only in limited areas and with limited reliability. Where the U.S. and China both claim to pursue meaningful cooperation on
climate change
, for example, China simply uses this to squeeze concessions for itself in other areas while still building hundreds of coal-fired power plants.

Xi is determined to displace the U.S.-led post-1945 democratic international order with an authoritarian Beijing-led order of feudal mercantilism. Freedom and prosperity are to exist only as far as Beijing allows them. And Xi’s new confrontational rhetoric to this effect underlines the increasingly aggressive posture Beijing is adopting toward Washington.

To its credit, the Biden administration has significantly expanded on former President Donald Trump’s efforts to restrict China’s access to high-tech software and manufacturing inputs, such as microchips. This has weakened China’s tech industry and restrained some of the People’s Liberation Army’s research and development. Alongside more active U.S. support for Taiwan, Xi likely senses that his long-standing efforts to woo the U.S. with trade have ended. The gambit still works with Europe, but the good old days of appeasement by Ben “the Blob” Rhodes and the Obama administration are now a distant memory.

Still, it would be foolish for the Biden administration and Congress to assume,
as some U.S. officials do
, that America can take its foot off the gas. China’s potent military capability means it has a
credible possibility of defeating
the U.S. and Taiwan in a war over control of that island democracy. That matters because the CIA has stated that Xi has ordered the PLA to be ready to fight that war by 2027. The U.S. needs wholesale adaptation of its forces,
defense procurement
, and political mobilization to deter an invasion of Taiwan or, if necessary, to defeat it.

Rep. Mike Gallagher’s (R-WI) new House China select committee should grill U.S. military commanders responsible for China on whether they have all they need to fight tomorrow. Their answer will be a variation of “No.” A more honest answer would be “Hell no.”

The U.S. must move
far more aggressively
to press European allies to contribute more to their own defense against Russia and to aid Ukraine so the most valuable and limited U.S. military capabilities — F-22 fighter squadrons and Navy destroyers, for example — can be prepared for Pacific operations. While the U.S. should maintain military and financial support for Ukraine, including the provision of artillery shells, Congress must ensure that stocks of weapons needed to defend Taiwan, such as portable anti-air and anti-armor missiles, are not too depleted.

Corporate America must also take increased political heat in the new Cold War. Gallagher says he will call for testimony
from corporate leaders
obedient to China in return for Beijing granting them privileged business access. American consumers must also be more willing to judge those corporations skeptically —
Disney, Intel, Coca-Cola, the NBA, and Mars
— which put profits in China ahead of U.S. national security and the nation’s defining democratic values.

Very close allies such as Israel should also be put on notice that their continued high-tech cooperation with China
is a red-line issue
. It now threatens the lives of American service personnel who may soon have to fight the PLA. If Israel is unwilling to limit its cooperation with China’s technology industry, especially on artificial intelligence, Washington must be willing to consider previously unthinkable options, such as cuts in financial aid to Israel. A good ally, in short, should not help America’s most potent enemy.

Be under no illusion: China views all high tech as having military uses as well as civilian ones. The just-concluded National People’s Congress emphasized the need to integrate the two further.

Xi is now fully embarked on what he regards as a course of destiny. He will either arrive at his intended destination or be prevented from doing so. But he will not stop voluntarily. The future peace, prosperity, and freedom of Americans and citizens of other free countries require that Xi be obstructed.