China’s Cold War with America Has Already Gone Hot

November 4, 2023 Topic: China Region: Asia Tags: ChinaCold War IIXi JinpingCold WarChinese Communist Party

China’s Cold War with America Has Already Gone Hot

China is weaponizing everything in its strategic tool kit against the United States.


A world influenced by the CCP’s united front system and propaganda cries out for a United States of America that knows what it stands for and why, and sees U.S. power and ideals as “indispensable” for the kind of world we want to live in. Look, for example, at Latin America, where China has taken full advantage of moral and strategic deficits in U.S. policy. China, along with Russia and Iran, has significantly increased its presence and leverage, and support of oppressive anti-American dictatorships in Venezuela and Nicaragua. Venezuela even hosted Russian war games which included China, Iran, Cuba, and others in 2022. China is establishing airports, seaports, and space facilities, as well as Confucius Institutes, in the region. Honduras’ decision to drop diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of China and Brazil’s enthusiasm for “deepening ties” with China are sobering reminders of China’s sway.

In spite of China’s narrative of fighting terrorism, China backs terrorist groups as well as extremist regimes. Analyst Kabir Taneja explains China’s growing ties with the Taliban: "The core ideas driving Beijing's thinking are to solidify Chinese influence to a point where the West has very little space in the region for the foreseeable future [while] having first access to any economic, mineral and natural resource benefits.” Chinese (as well as North Korean) weapons are in the hands of Hamas and other Iran-backed militias. China and Russia have shrewdly saturated social media with pro-Hamas narratives. Beijing exploits China-owned TikTok’s popularity with American youths to inflame anti-Israel sentiment and antisemitism. China, Russia, and Iran endlessly foment the chaos, strife, and division which give them new opportunities for control.


Across the “global south,” where America leaves a vacuum, China steps in ... to expand its military footprint, become the gatekeeper of vital minerals and resources, create economic and geopolitical dependence, and spread anti-democratic, pro-CCP propaganda.

China has made massive foreign infrastructure, energy, telecommunications, and real estate investments and has spent about $920 billion on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. In spite of setbacks, the BRI has advanced China’s imperialistic drive, leading not only to new security agreements and docks for China’s navy, but also to the insidious expansion of Chinese information and surveillance technology. Hikvision's latest software offers “ethnic minority” recognition technology, an obvious tool for oppression. Among the deals that serve Xi’s claim that “the East is rising and the West is declining” are the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, Cambodia’s Ream military base, and the massive Pinglu Canal project.

The United States’ ongoing dependency on China for minerals and components key to advanced technology, medications, and even weapons systems exposes dangerous vulnerability to Chinese supply chains in critical areas. Making matters worse, a new report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute concludes that China is leading the United States in researching and developing thirty-seven of forty-four critical or emerging technologies across key sectors including space, defense, artificial intelligence, energy, biology, and quantum computing. Worse still, China uses the financial hub of Hong Kong for the clandestine acquisition of technology and intellectual assets from overseas” and the establishment of shell companies. It would be a gross error to do too little too late to address this problem.

China’s relentless cyberattacks against the United States and increasing penetration of critical infrastructure are additional ominous signs of the times. When a Chinese-sponsored hacking group targeted infrastructure including U.S. Navy telecommunications systems in Guam that are key to Pacific defense, that foreshadowed China’s likely instigation of cyber war as part of a move on Taiwan. China has the world’s largest number of state-sponsored hackers, and per a U.S. official cited in the Washington Post, “is developing cyberattack capabilities that could be used to disrupt critical services (for) the U.S. and key Asian allies and shape decision-making in a crisis or conflict.”

So too in international organizations, China fixedly pursues predominance. China, Russia, and Iran run interference for each other in the United Nations, and China uses bullying of member states and UN leaders to avoid accountability and dictate narratives. From corrupting the UN, the WHO, and the World Bank, to realigning the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, to attempting to turn BRICS into an anti-U.S. coalition, to forming new “Global Development,” “Global Security,” and “Global Civilization” initiatives, China never lets up. Xi insists China’s redefinition of the world order will free peoples from U.S. “unilateralism” and lead them to “equality” and “justice.” But the truth is found in China’s genocide of Uyghurs and severe persecution of Tibetans, Christians, and Falun Gong adherents and dissidents.

There is a connection between China’s antagonistic external aggression and draconian internal suppression. As groundbreaking scholar on the Uyghur genocide Adrian Zenz said at a conference I attended: China’s brutal “assimilation” of ethnic minorities, which even includes forced sterilization and abortions, is related to China’s belief that to be a global superpower it “has to achieve national unity.” Han Chinese nationalism and “unified (Chinese Communist) thought” are to serve the global struggle.

In addition to all of this, it is hard to look at China’s transnational repression of Chinese Americans; deceptive, uncooperative behavior during the Covid epidemic; sinister role in deadly fentanyl making its way to American streets; purchase of land near U.S. military bases; and the thousands of military age Chinese males recently apprehended at the southern border, and not worry about China’s ill-intent for the U.S. homeland. Clearly, China is weaponizing everything in its strategic tool kit against the United States.

The United States sees China as its chief adversary, and is resigned to “great power competition.” AUKUS, Five Eyes intelligence sharing, enhanced U.S.-Japanese military cooperation, and other strategic initiatives are good. An executive order controlling exports of advanced computer chips, microelectronics, quantum information technologies, and artificial intelligence technologies is good. Congress’s Human Rights Policy Act and Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act are good.  But they are not enough. The White House must not skirt full enforcement of sanctions, or avoid secondary sanctions. The United States and its European and Asian allies must make building up and modernizing their military defenses and fortifying alliances urgent priorities. They must speed up weapons production and delivery of weapons to Taiwan.

Democracies should stress to non-aligned countries the dire implications of aligning with China; the “National Security Law” stamping out freedom in Hong Kong is the real face of the globalization of the CCP. And they should give Ukraine the weapons to win, not just hang on, and take a robust stand against Iran’s proxy wars. To do otherwise sends a dangerous green light to already emboldened China. Moreover, China’s drive for technological supremacy and control of the world’s data, rare earths, and energy assets require a coordinated, comprehensive response. Western businesses should end all businesses tainted with forced labor, cease complying with CCP demands to overlook human rights, and stop selling China dual-use technology. For the United States, there is no time to waste in rebuilding manufacturing and “onshoring” energy, food, and medicine.

America must rediscover its voice for freedom, once again become the partner of choice in commerce and development, and recall the post-World War II understanding that peace comes through strength. As China Commission chair Mike Gallagher says, “China is a threat to our sovereignty and our values.” Let’s act accordingly.

About the Author 

 Anne R. Pierce is an author of books and articles on American presidents, American foreign policy, and American society. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, is an appointed member of Princeton University’s James Madison Society, and was a Political Science Series Editor for Transaction Publishers. Follow her @AnneRPierce.

Image Credit: Chinese Military.