The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has singled out a “growing rivalry with China, Russia, and other authoritarian states” as a key challenge facing the United States.
A White House document outlining Biden’s national-security policies, made public on March 3, describes China, the world’s second-largest economic power, as “the only competitor potentially capable of combining its economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to mount a sustained challenge to a stable and open international system.”
The 24-page document also warns that Russia “remains determined to enhance its global influence and play a disruptive role on the world stage.”
Meanwhile, Iran and North Korea are pursuing “game-changing capabilities and technologies, while threatening U.S. allies and partners and challenging regional stability.”
Both Beijing and Moscow “have invested heavily in efforts meant to check U.S. strengths and prevent us from defending our interests and allies around the world,” according to the document, titled Interim National Security Strategic Guidance.
It says that in the face of challenges from “an increasingly assertive China and destabilizing Russia,” the U.S. military would shift its emphasis away from “unneeded legacy platforms and weapons systems to free up resources for investments” in cutting-edge technologies.
After four years of former President Donald Trump’s “America first” approach, Biden has vowed to confront “authoritarianism” in China and Russia while reengaging with allies and centering multilateral diplomacy.
Washington and Beijing are at odds over influence in the Indo-Pacific region, China’s economic practices, and human rights in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang region.
Moscow’s relations with Washington are at post-Cold War lows, strained by issues including the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, Russia’s alleged meddling in elections in the United States and other democracies, and the poisoning of Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny.
In a foreign-policy speech at the State Department, Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the U.S. relationship with China as “the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century,” while several other countries also represent “serious challenges” for the United States, including Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
“Our relationship with China will be competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be,” Blinken said.
The United States needs to “engage China from a position of strength,” which requires working with allies and partners, engaging in diplomacy and in international organizations, “because where we have pulled back, China has filled in,” and “standing up for our values when human rights are abused in Xinjiang or when democracy is trampled in Hong Kong.”