Shaping of the China Threat Concept in the U.S. Expert-Political Discourse

24
DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2023-67-11-35-45
EDN: DWXNPW
V. Zhuravleva, zhvika@imemo.ru
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation.
M. Cherkashin, cherkashin83@mail.ru
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation.

Received 25.08.2023. Revised 29.08.2023. Accepted 04.09.2023.

Acknowledgments. The article was prepared within the project “Post-Crisis World Order: Challenges and Technologies, Competition and Cooperation” supported by the grant from Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation program for research projects in priority areas of scientific and technological development (Agreement 075-15-2020-783).


Abstract. In 2011, Andrew Liveris, a former CEO and chairman of The Dow Chemical Company, one of the three largest chemical producers in the world, published the book “Make in America. Re-invention solved”. During the 2016 presidential campaign, he was one of D. Trump’s top donors. In 2017, the President appointed him to lead his American Manufacturing Council. The slogan “make in America” became the second key ideological element of Donald Trump’s presidency, along with the popular “make America great again”. The strategy of restoring American industry has become the basis of D. Trump’s economic policy and is continued by J. Biden. It also in many ways strengthened and accelerated the confrontational vector in the U.S. policy towards China. This is a vivid example of how ideas can get into American political discourse, become official concepts that determine not only the country’s internal development, but also foreign policy strategies. In American politics, there is a well-established mechanism for such transition of ideas into political concepts and big strategies. Through this mechanism, the authors are striving to track the dynamics of the U.S. – China confrontation. This article explores the evolution of the “China Threat” concept in American policy from “think tanks” analytical papers to Senate hearings and annual reports towards, finally, the National Security Strategies of the last three administrations. This research shows the gradual change in narratives from the “U.S. – China partnership” to the “U.S. – China confrontation”. The principles of systems analysis allowed us to consider the process of formulating current foreign policy approaches to China through the interaction of the main elements of the U.S. foreign policy strategic conceptualization. In this systemic process, there are three interrelated actors – research centers, Congress and the President. The research period is limited to the term of the last three presidents, with a view to trace, if possible, the point of transition from the declared “well-being” in bilateral relations to the declared confrontation. The authors came to the conclusion that the escalation of the “China Threat” in political discourse starts from the period of B. Obama’s defense budget reduction and was highly promoted by the U.S. Department of Defense and military-industrial complex interest groups through conceptualization of the threat by think tanks.

Keywords: China, USA, strategic competition, cooperation logic, confrontation logic, think tanks, U. S. Senate, RAND Corporation, The Brookings Institution, The Heritage Foundation, The National Security Strategy, China Threat


REFERENCES

1. McCausland P. Biden calls Xi a dictator, Fueling Chinese anger. NBC News, 21.06.2023. Available at: https://apnews.com/article/china-biden-xi-jinping-dictator-c1fe17f72e2d37fcc840575eea1b78d2 (accessed 02.07.2023).

2. Zhu Jinghao. Great Power Competition as the New Normal of China-US Relations. New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2023. 299 p. Available at: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-031-09413-2 

3. Liveris A.N. Make it in America. The Case for Reinventing Economy. New York, Wiley, 2011. 240 p.

4. Bush R.C., Jones B., Pollack J.D. Avert Conflict in the South and East China Seas: Memorandum to President Obama. Brookings Institution, 23.01.2014. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/articles/avert-conflict-in-the-south-and-east-china-seas/ (accessed 01.07.2023).

5. Shambaugh D. China at the Crossroads: Ten Major Reform Challenges. Brookings Institution, 01.10.2010. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/01-china-crossroads-reform-challenges-shambaugh-b.pdf (accessed 01.07.2023).

6. Pollack J.D., Bader J.A. Return to the Asia Rebalance: Memorandum to President Obama. Brookings Institution, 23.01.2014. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/articles/return-to-the-asia-rebalance-and-the-u-s-china-relationship/ (accessed 01.07.2023).

7. Bader J.A. Changing China policy: Are we in search of enemies? Brookings Institution, 01.06.2015. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Changing-China-policy-Are-we-in-search-of-enemies.pdf (accessed 01.07.2023).

8. Shambaugh D. China at the Crossroads: Ten Major Reform Challenges. Brookings Institution, 01.10.2010. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/01-china-crossroads-reform-challenges-shambaugh-b.pdf (accessed 01.07.2023).

9. Dollar D. China’s rise as a regional and global power: The AIIB and the “one belt, one road”. Brookings Institution, 15.07.2015. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/articles/chinas-rise-as-a-regional-and-global-power-the-aiib-and-the-one-belt-one-road/ (accessed 01.07.2023).

10. Bader J.A. Changing China policy: Are we in search of enemies? Brookings Institution, 01.06.2015. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Changing-China-policy-Are-we-in-search-of-enemies.pdf (accessed 01.07.2023).

11. O’Hanlon M.E., Sisson M.W., Talmadge C. Managing the risks of US-China war: Implementing a strategy of integrated deterrence. Brookings Institution, September 2022. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/articles/managing-the-risks-of-us-china-war-implementing-a-strategy-of-integrated-deterrence/ (accessed 01.07.2023).

12. Kerry C.F., Meltzer J.P., Sheehan M. Can democracies cooperate with China on AI research? Rebalancing AI research networks. Brookings Institution, 09.01.2023. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/articles/can-democracies-cooperate-with-china-on-ai-research/ (accessed 01.07.2023).

13. Hass R., Kim P.M., Bader J.A. A course correction in America’s China policy. Brookings Institution, November 2022. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/articles/a-course-correction-in-americas-china-policy/ (accessed 01.07.2023).

14. O’Hanlon M. E. Getting China right: Resoluteness without overreaction. Brookings Institution, June 2023. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/articles/getting-china-right-resoluteness-without-overreaction/ (accessed 01.07.2023).

15. Lin B., Shatz H.J., Chandler N., Garafola C.L., Han E., Law A., Mallory K., Winkelman Z. Bridging the Gap: Assessing U.S. Business Community Support for U.S.-China Competition. RAND Corporation, 2022. Available at: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA1417-1.html (accessed 01.07.2023).

16. Johnson El., Cook N. The real reason Jim DeMint got the boot. Politico, 02.05.2017. Available at: https://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/02/why-jim-demint-was-ousted-from-heritage-237876 (accessed 12.08.2023).

17. Hilliker B., Enos O. The Overlooked Human Rights Crisis Unfolding in China’s Xinjiang Province. Heritage Foundation, 26.07.2018. Available at: https://www.heritage.org/asia/commentary/the-overlooked-human-rights-crisis-unfolding-chinas-xinjiang-province (accessed 12.08.2023).

18. Meservey J. Chinese Corruption in Africa Undermines Beijing’s Rhetoric about Friendship with the Continent. Heritage Foundation, 08.08.2018. Available at: https://www.heritage.org/global-politics/report/chinese-corruption-africa-undermines-beijings-rhetoric-about-friendship-the (accessed 12.08.2023).

19. Roberts J.M. Free Trade: America’s Best Strategy to Counter China. Heritage Insider, 20.12.2018. Available at: https://www.heritage.org/insider/winter-2019-insider/free-trade-americas-best-strategy-counter-china (accessed 12.08.2023).

20. Smith J. China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Strategic Implications and International Opposition. Heritage Foundation, 09.08.2018. Available at: https://www.heritage.org/asia/report/chinas-belt-and-road-initiative-strategic-implications-and-international-opposition (accessed 12.08.2023).

21. Walters R. Understanding China’s Economic Weaknesses Key to U.S. Policy Development. Heritage Foundation, 16.12.2019. Available at: https://www.heritage.org/asia/report/understanding-chinas-economic-weaknesses-key-us-policy-development (accessed 12.08.2023).

22. Cheng D. et al. Assessing Beijing’s Power: A Blueprint for the U. S. Response to China over the Next Decades. Heritage Foundation, 10.02.2020. Available at: https://www.heritage.org/asia/report/assessing-beijings-power-blueprint-the-us-response-china-over-the-next-decades (accessed 12.08.2023).

23. Freeman B. U.S. Government and Defense Contractor Funding of America’s Top 50 Think Tanks. Washington, D.C., Center for International Policy, October 2020. Available at: https://3ba8a190-62da-4c98-86d2-893079d87083.usrfiles.com/ugd/3ba8a1_c7e3bfc7723d4021b54cbc145ae3f5eb.pdf (accessed 10.07.2023).

24. Ochmanek D. The Role of Maritime and Air Power in DoD’s Third Offset Strategy. RAND Corporation, 02.12.2014. Available at: https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/testimonies/CT400/CT420/RAND_CT420.pdf (accessed 15.08.2023).

25. Heginbotham E. et al. The U.S.-China Military Scorecard: Forces, Geography, and the Evolving Balance of Power, 1996–2017. RAND Corporation, 2015. Available at: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR392.html (accessed 15.08.2023).

26. Lohman W., Walters R. Understanding the Chinese Challenge to the United States. Heritage Foundation, 29.09.2020. Available at: https://www.heritage.org/asia/commentary/understanding-the-chinese-challenge-the-united-states (accessed 15.08.2023).


SOURCES

1. 2005 Report to Congress of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission. One Hundred Ninth Congress. First Session, November 2005. Available at: https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/annual_reports/2005-Report-to-Congress.pdf (accessed 10.07.2023).

2. Brookings Institution Annual Report 2015. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/2015-annual-report.pdf (accessed 01.07.2023).

3. Brookings Institution Board of Trustees Elects New Board Co-Chairs. Brookings Institution. Press Release, 16.11.2018. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/news/brookings-institution-board-of-trustees-elects-new-board-co-chairs/ (accessed 01.07.2023).

4. Donate to The Heritage Foundation. Available at: https://secured.heritage.org/ (accessed 12.08.2023).

5. How China Is Taking Control of Hollywood. Heritage Explains, 14.12.2018. Available at: https://www.heritage.org/asia/heritage-explains/how-china-taking-control-hollywood (accessed 12.08.2023).

6. National Security Strategy, May 2010. The White House, Washington. Available at: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/national_security_strategy.pdf (accessed 15.08.2023).

7. National Security Strategy, February 2015. The White House, Washington. Available at: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2015_national_security_strategy_2.pdf (accessed 15.08.2023).

8. Military expenditure (current USD) – United States. The World Bank. Data. Available at: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/MS.MIL.XPND.CD?locations=US (accessed 16.08.2023).

9. China and Russia. Hearing before the Committee on Armed Services United States Senate. One Hundred Sixteenth Congress. First Session, 29.01.2019. Available at: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-116shrg41302/html/CHRG-116shrg41302.htm (accessed 15.08.2023).

10. Rand Corporation Financial Statement. Fiscal Years Ended September 30, 2022 and 2021. Available at: https://www.rand.org/pubs/corporate_pubs/CPA1263.html (accessed 15.08.2023).

11. Think Tanks Abound with Former Spies. Think Tank Watch, 08.11.2012. Available at: http://www.thinktankwatch.com/2012/11/think-tanks-abound-with-former-spies.html (accessed 15.08.2023).

12. National Security Strategy of the United States of America, December 2017. The White House, Washington, DC. Available at: https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905-2.pdf (accessed 15.08.2023).

13. National Security Strategy of the United States of America, October 2022. The White House, Washington, DC. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Biden-Harris-Administrations-National-Security-Strategy-10.2022.pdf (accessed 15.08.2023).


For citation:
Zhuravleva V., Cherkashin M. Shaping of the China Threat Concept in the U.S. Expert-Political Discourse. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2023, vol. 67, no. 11, pp. 35-45. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2023-67-11-35-45 EDN: DWXNPW



Comments (0)

No comments

Add comment







Indexed

 

 

 

 

Dear authors! Please note that in the VAK List of peer-reviewed scientific journals, in which the main scientific results of dissertations for the degree of candidate and doctor of sciences should be published for the “MEMO Journal” the following specialties are recorded:
economic sciences:
5.2.5. World Economy.
5.2.1. Economic Theory
5.2.3. Regional and Branch Economics
political sciences:
5.5.4. International Relations
5.5.1. History and Theory of Politics
5.5.2. Political Institutions, Processes, Technologies

 

Current Issue
2024, vol. 68, No. 4
Topical Themes of the Issue:
  • Financial Contagion Propagation in Europe under the Impact of Global Shocks
  • Regional Powers on the African Continent: Trends and Prospects
  • Investment Activity of the PRC in the Kyrgyz Republic
  • “Land Grabbing” Concept: Global and National Aspects
Submit an Article
INVITATION FOR PUBLICATION
The Editorial Board invites authors to write analytical articles on the following topics:
  • changes in the processes of globalization in modern conditions
  • formation of the new world order
  • shifts in civilization at the stage of transition to a digital society

The editors are also interested in publishing synthesis articles / scientific reviews revealing the main trends in the development of certain regions of the world - Latin America, Africa, South Asia, etc.