Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Hiroshi Yuasa

【#548】Be Prepared for New U.S.-China Cold War

Hiroshi Yuasa / 2018.10.10 (Wed)

October 9, 2018

     The Trump administration’s foreign policy indicates that the United States is prepared for a new cold war with China over security and trade issues. It may be reasonable to comment that Vice President Mike Pence’s speech on October 4 in Washington has reminded us of the moment when then U.S. President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union “an evil empire.” Previous U.S. administrations had overlooked China’s actions to expand its global influence in defiance of international order. “But those days are over,” Pence said, indicating Washington’s determination against China. What we would urge the Trump administration is to coordinate strategies promptly with U.S. allies.

21st century struggle for hegemony
     Any trade war has historically rooted in competition for advanced technologies. Britain in the 19th century and the United States in the 20th century won hegemony by taking control of then advanced technologies. The current U.S.-China trade war may represent a contest for global hegemony in the 21st century. In the speech, Pence declared the Trump administration’s actions to “reset” America’s relationship with China covering not only trade but also security and human rights. Specifically, Pence emphasized that “China is meddling in America’s democracy” ahead of November’s midterm elections, criticizing China for mounting cyberattacks, providing generous funding to universities and think tanks and restricting journalists’ actions to sabotage the American democracy system.
     Pence conspicuously accused China for aiming to implement an “Orwellian system” by 2020 to put every facet of human life under the control of the Communist Party, referring to British writer George Orwell’s novel titled “1984” depicting a totalitarian gloomy world where people are deprived of freedom and prohibited from making anti-government remarks or actions under the name of socialism. Pence also noted that Beijing unusually requires Japanese, American and European companies operating in China to establish in-house “party organizations.”

Japan should work with U.S. in countering China
     President Donald Trump in his remarks at the United Nations Security Council has angrily criticized China for interfering in the midterm elections, suggesting China believes that any post-Trump U.S. president would not take stronger attitude against China. Reportedly, however, the Pence speech deeply reflected the ideas of the president’s National Security Adviser John Bolton and Defense Secretary James Mattis beyond Trump’s personal emotion. The change in views on China is not limited to hawks within the Trump administration. Americans generally tend to have a strong rivalry against a foreign country when they feel overreached on surprise developments like the Sputnik Shock, when the Soviet Union launched the world’s first ever artificial satellite.
     Reflecting a tough bipartisan attitude against China, the U.S. Congress has required to take such measures as the annual defense authorization act stipulated to counter China. These measures include rigorously screening investment by Chinese companies and enhancing defense cooperation with India and Taiwan.
     In contrast to Washington’s tough attitude towards Beijing, Japan’s government under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seemingly has embraced Chinese President Xi Jinping’s friendly approach to Japan. However, the Japanese government should not be exploited for Beijing’s attempt to split Japan and the U. S. Japan is required to work with the U. S. as an ally if only to block China’s hegemonic moves.

Hiroshi Yuasa is a Planning Committee member and a senior fellow at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.