The U.S. Has One Key Advantage China Simply Can't Match

The U.S. Has One Key Advantage China Simply Can't Match

A recent hearing highlighted how Congress and the military are thinking about long-term competition with Beijing. Allies are the key. 

China was the big topic this week, when Adm. Philip Davidson, the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, testified before Congress this week. Admiral Davidson first appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, and then testified Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee. For the House testimony, Admiral Davidson was joined by David Helvey, the acting assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, and Army Gen. Robert Abrams, the commander of Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea.

According to a Defense One report about the House testimony, it dealt a great deal with the importance of alliances, when it comes to confronting China.

“The idea that we can build a military large enough and strong enough to dominate China in the modern world is not realistic and is fraught with danger,” Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in the hearing. “So I hope we can better understand how to make proper investments.” 

“The United States simply can’t do this alone. And certainly not in isolation,” another Democrat on the committee, Rep. Anthony Brown of Maryland, said in the hearing.

The thrust of the hearing was that while no one of either party was calling for a lack of military presence in the South Pacific, but rather hinged on the challenge of how to get allies to commit to doing their part.

That appears to be the approach taken by the Joe Biden Administration. During the campaign, President Biden called for “immediate steps to renew our own democracy and alliances,” and per a Voice of America story, U.S. allies are on board with that strategy when it comes to China.

Along those lines, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) was founded in 2020. The IPAC has been described as “an international cross-party group of legislators working towards reform on how democratic countries approach China.”

“We’ve got to reduce our dependence on China’s supply chain, that means building our own technology base, working across democratic countries to do that. We’ve got to also become an alliance maker, rather than an alliance breaker, whatever your opinion on Brexit,” Stephen Kinnock, a Labor Party lawmaker in Britain, told the Voice of America.

“One of the key advances of the United States over the course of post-World War II history is our ability to lead the world in innovation,” Admiral Davidson said, per Defense One. “That’s led not only to prosperity in this nation, but I would say across the globe as well...There’s plenty of opportunities for the United States to continue to lead the globe there.” 

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters.