James Forsyth

The China challenge has no precedent

The China challenge has no precedent
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The US has never been more worried by the rise of China than it is today. In my Times column today, I mention a new book by Joe Biden's China director on the National Security Council which sets out why ‘China now poses a challenge unlike any the US has ever faced’. Rush Doshi notes that American hegemony has been based, in considerable part, on its economic might. In the second world war, Germany and Japan combined did not reach 60 per cent of US GDP. Throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union failed to hit this mark. Yet, China passed it seven years ago.

The book sets out how China is attempting to replace the US-led world order with its own system, and how the US should try and counter this. It highlights that great power competition is very much back. It is in stark contrast to the Bush administration’s post 9/11 National Security Strategy which assumed that terrorism and rogue states was now the major strategic challenge and that 9/11 had 'fundamentally changed the context for relations between the United States and other main centres of global power'.

The contest between China and the US-aligned West will be the defining issue of the coming decades. As the Huawei debate here last year showed, it will affect huge swathes of policy. It will be more central to domestic economic policy than the Cold War ever was.