Cyber Risk Leaders Magazine - Issue 5, 2021

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Shifting Interests: How the Biden Administration can rework American foreign policy on China By Alan Cunningham


t goes without saying that China is becoming a very large and serious power. Since the late 1970s, China has grown exponentially as an economic powerhouse, combining

standard Capitalist and Communist economic models while being set “to become the largest economy by 2030”. Militarily, within the past twenty years, China has evolved from “a sizable but mostly archaic military” to one that is ahead of the United States in the form of shipbuilding, air defense systems, and conventional ballistic/cruise missiles while also taking steps to become pioneers in cyberwarfare and introducing “new military hardware” into their military systems. China has, diplomatically, militarily, and economically become a truly imposing force and poses a real threat to U.S. and Western interests in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere. Given the extreme importance that China has upon global affairs, it is apparent that a new shift has come with the Biden administration. Recently, at the G7 summit, President Biden tried to “persuade fellow democratic leaders to present a more unified front to compete economically with Beijing” by calling out China’s human rights abuses while also considering opening up talks with Xi Jinping to discuss these issues. This is a marked shift from Trump’s more Chinese benefiting policies. In my view, countering China’s long-term ambitions or goals is difficult as, like the United States, they are quite

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sure of themselves and their positions and are determined to succeed in their individual desires. The American position on China is also in need of reform and reworking. The Center for American Progress has described U.S. policy in dealing with China in this way, stating, “the United States has pursued a strategy that is fundamentally flawed. Instead of channeling public resources to support American innovation and invest in American workers, Washington assumed the United States could coast on a combination of natural comparative advantages and status quo technology dominance, much of which stemmed from investments made decades earlier. That approach has not worked. China is investing heavily in emerging technology sectors—such as artificial intelligence and next-generation mobile communication—to successfully chip away at U.S. technology leadership and global market share. However, in the United States, many workers are unable to find good jobs in the information economy. In sum, the United States has lagged on the very areas of strength it needs to compete against an increasingly powerful China”. U.S. policy has been one that, at first, has ignored China, with it only being recently that the U.S. has actually started paying attention to the serious economic and technological challenges and threats that China has. Examining just one issue, it is known that the U.S., in a technological and cybersecurity format, is massively unprepared for cyber