The Establishment Goes Trump on China

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Read recent essays on China. Visit think-tank public symposia. Hear out military analysts. Talk with academics and media pundits. Listen to Silicon Valley grandees. Watch Senate speeches and politicians interview on television.

The resulting new groupspeak is surreal. If one excises the word “Trump,” what follows is a seemingly revolutionary recalibration of attitudes toward China that more or less echo Trump’s voice in the wilderness and often crude and shrill warnings dating back from the campaign trail of 2015.

Trump’s second secretary of state, the skillful Mike Pompeo, has been institutionalizing the president’s pessimistic view of China. Insightful but heretofore underappreciated assessments from China scholars such as Miles Yu and Gordon Chang are now being taking seriously. Both have been warning us for years that the Chinese seek domination, not accommodation, and are replacing their erstwhile feigned respect for our strength with an emboldened contempt for our perceived growing weakness, whether real or psychological. Both have warned also that once China achieves military, economic, and cultural parity with the United States, the global order will be quite different from that of the last 75 years.

From the military, one hears more frequently now that we were at a tipping point by late 2016: The Obama Asian pivot had failed — publicly provocative, but in reality without substance, giving the lethal impression of real weakness masked by empty rhetoric. The Chinese militarization of the Spratley Islands was conceded as the inevitable future of the South China Sea. Chinese military and weapons doctrine was aimed at destroying the offensive capability of the U.S. fleet in the Pacific as a way of breaking off allies from America, and then Finlanding them.

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