China’s Rise: the American response

Over the past several decades, China has significantly grown its economy and military and has become a very powerful authoritarian state. With its improvements in technology and heightened research, China’s efforts to become the number one world power may very well succeed. In order for America to remain at the top of the global stage and compete with China, the nation must make some crucial changes both internally and externally while still continuing to work with China.

Unemployment rates have spiked significantly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the outbreak, unemployment rates remained very constant at around 3.5 to 4% unemployment. During the outbreak, rates spiked to numbers as high as 15% during the worst parts of the pandemic. Even though unemployment rates are now much lower than they were at the beginning of the pandemic, they are still much higher than the normal rates in the past because workers received multiple stimulus checks and are still collecting unemployment benefits. In order for the U.S. to continue to be the number one world power, Washington must encourage its citizens to reenter the workforce in order to stimulate the economy and help it grow. 

In addition to this, the CCP has gained a powerful position in the US’ advanced technology industry through actions of cheating, theft, and espionage. This has resulted in the loss of millions of jobs. America should detach itself from China’s economy and bring businesses back to the US to re-establish all of these jobs. The US should also block any untrusted companies to avoid poor security practices. Cheng, Lohman, Carafano, and Walters in The Heritage Foundation state, “The CFIUS should block foreign companies from U.S. investments if they have a history of producing hardware or software with known vulnerabilities.” This strategy will help weaken China’s attempts to buy start-up programs that trade poor security practices in turn for easy access to US capital. 

Once internal problems are solved, the U.S. should consider the ways in which to combat China’s rise. China is on the verge of becoming the leading global superpower. They are currently number two and have a GDP of $14.3 trillion with a population of over one billion people. However, this growth has not been accompanied by more freedoms for its people; it has done the opposite. “China’s economic and military rise has only deepened the conviction of Beijing’s party leaders that authoritarianism is essential to economic prosperity and civic stability,” says Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America. In order to keep their rising authoritarian power in check, the U.S. must become actively involved in combating China’s economic ambitions and punish China economically, through the use of tariffs, trade barriers, and restrictions.

Moreover, a major factor America must address is Chinese censorship. China’s influence over American media is a problem. For instance, many American companies want their films to be viewed in China, as there is much money to be made there, but censorship makes it difficult for many films to reach Chinese audiences. While this censorship appears to only affect those in China, that is not truly the case. As Matt Pressburg of the Wrap writes, “Firms from China have been scooping up production companies and theater chains by the billions in recent years.” Not only do American companies modify their content so their products can be viewed in China, but China is also taking control over the very companies that produce the films and other content we watch in America. If the US government cracks down on China’s media censorship and refuses to cater to the Chinese market, it will put a dent in China’s economy. 

However, despite the many reasons to combat China, the US should also work with China to maintain a stable international relationship. For example, China and the US can come together to fight a common enemy. A common problem between both countries would be fighting climate change. Both countries have a lot of work to do when it comes to fighting in the global health battle against climate change. This would help the world greatly if both economic powerhouses joined together to fight climate change. It would create a great example for the rest of the world to follow. This would also help build positive relations between China and the US. 

Likewise, another important way the two countries can cooperate would be by sharing scientific research. Both countries envision a future dominated by science, but scientific collaborations have recently been hesitant due to many allegations that China has been stealing American technology ideas. To eliminate this, more scientific collaboration between the two countries must be encouraged. The US and China have some of the greatest scientists in the world and it would be a shame if they didn’t work together to tackle the world’s biggest problems.

In conclusion, the American response to China’s rise should entail some crucial internal and external changes made by the United States, while still continuing to work with China. Within its borders, the United States needs to get people back to work and become economically independent from China to put it in a strong position to take on China. To begin to combat China, Washington needs to impose sanctions and other economic punishments to keep Beijing’s authoritarianism in check. Furthermore, once the U.S. becomes independently stronger and holds China accountable for its actions, Washington should work with China to establish a positive working relationship so we can take on bigger global issues together. Overall, the approach America takes to respond to China’s rise is crucial to the success of America in the future. If Washington begins to underestimate China’s power and influence, the United States may very well lose its top position on the global stage. 

This is a submission from FS 19: China’s Past/Present and America’s Responses.