After taking a look at current world events, it’s easy to see that something ominous is brewing between the US and China. The US is spending a fortune on the F-35, high-tech wizardry like lasers for fighter jets, and a secretive space program meant to combat China. Meanwhile, China has invested huge sums in its own military buildup. And, of course, there is the trade war between the US and China and a war of words over what is happening in Hong Kong. In short, America is experiencing a new Cold War with China.
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Niall Ferguson of the Hoover Institution agrees. His recent New York Times article, titled “The New Cold War? It’s With China, and It Has Already Begun” is an excellent take on why America is already in the early stages of a new Cold War with China, what that “war” will look like, and why it’s inescapable, at least for now. If you’re interested in reading more about it after checking out this summary, make sure to follow the link below and check out the full article!
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Summary of Why America is in a New Cold War with China
Ferguson starts his article by laying out why he thinks a new Cold War with China has already begun:
Pedantic scholars may say the new Cold War actually began with Donald Trump’s election in November 2016, or his initial imposition of tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels, many of which are made in China, in January 2018. Others will suggest early October 2018, when Vice President Mike Pence denounced Beijing’s use of “political, economic and military tools, as well as propaganda, to advance its influence,” as a plausible starting point.
Yet it was not until 2019 that the Trump administration’s confrontational approach to China was effectively embraced by members of the policy elite on both sides of the partisan divide. With remarkable speed, Mr. Trump’s hostility went from foreign policy idiosyncrasy to conventional wisdom.From: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/02/opinion/china-cold-war.html
Next, Ferguson writes about what the shift in the US public’s attitude towards China means for Sino-American relations:
Public opinion made a similar shift. A Pew Research Center survey showed that the percentage of Americans holding an unfavorable view of China jumped to 60 percent in 2019 from 47 percent the year before. Only 26 percent of Americans held a favorable view of the country.From: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/02/opinion/china-cold-war.html
Then, Ferguson explains the various, ongoing contests and spats between the US and China:
In short order, the United States and China found themselves engaged in a technology war over the global dominance of the Chinese company Huawei in 5G network telecommunications and an ideological confrontation in response to the abuses of Uighur Muslim minorities in China’s Xinjiang region, as well as a classic superpower competition for primacy in science and technology. The threat also loomed of a currency war over the exchange rate for the Chinese yuan, which the People’s Bank of China has allowed to weaken against the dollar.From: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/02/opinion/china-cold-war.html
Ferguson next discusses why a new Cold War with China might not be a bad thing for the US:
China is so inferior to the United States in nuclear weaponry that any confrontation is much more likely to occur in cyberspace, or in space itself, than with intercontinental ballistic missiles. The People’s Republic does not have the same approach to global expansionism as the Soviet Union either. Chinese money goes into infrastructure projects and politicians’ pockets, not foreign guerrilla movements. The “One Belt, One Road” initiative — Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature overseas investment program — does not aim for world revolution.
If Cold War II confines itself to an economic and technological competition between two systems — one democratic, the other not — its benefits could very well outweigh its costs. After all, the economic spinoff from research and development operations associated with the original Cold War were part of the reason American growth was so strong in the 1950s and 1960s.From:https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/02/opinion/china-cold-war.html
Finally, Ferguson describes why a new Cold War with China could be politically beneficial for the US:
If Americans are now waking up to a new external enemy, might it not reduce the notorious internal polarization of recent times, which we can see in the decline of bipartisanship in Congress as well as in the vehemence of discourse on social media? It is possible.From: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/02/opinion/china-cold-war.html
Analysis of Ferguson’s Article about a New Cold War with China
What I Liked:
Overall, I thought Ferguson’s article about a new Cold War with China was interesting and accurate. His descriptions of the contests and spats between us and the Chinese provided a particularly good summary of the current industrial and geopolitical situation.
Also, I really appreciated his final section on why a new Cold War with China could reunite the US politically. I think that a renewed sense of purpose and competition would revive our appreciation for a common American creed and would help solve many of the problems that Huntington wrote about in Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity.
It is certainly possible that the current political segregation and polarization found in America could be solved by a peaceful, technological, and economic competition with China. In other words, it is certainly believable that a new Cold War with China could parallel the old Cold War.
Reading The Best and The Brightest is all it takes to see what a little bit of charismatic leadership and high geopolitical stakes can do to unite a country.
Trump is charismatic and the stakes with China are sky-high; this is a contest between capitalism and socialism, freedom and tyranny. Hopefully, it will reunite Americans and help us solve our current civil unrest problem. In any case, it was great that Ferguson brought up that aspect of the new Cold War. It was something that I hadn’t previously considered but now agree with.
What I Disliked:
There were two main complaints I had with Ferguson’s article about a new Cold War with China.
First off, I wholeheartedly disagree that government spending is what made the US strong in the Cold War. Sure, military spending helped, but the Soviets matched us in military innovation until the 1980’s.
What helped America win was our devotion to free markets and laissez-faire capitalism. Private projects beat government ones every time because private companies innovate while the government stagnates. America had a much larger private sector, so we won.
I think Ferguson should have explicitly stated that. As a fellow at the Hoover Institution, he should know the benefits of free markets and free people; they’re what give us the moral high-ground and let us beat centrally-planned states like China.
My only other complaint was that Ferguson doesn’t seem to adequately address why the liberty present in America gives Americans an advantage over the Chinese, and why their collectivist system hobbles them. The pilgrims tried collectivism and failed; it’s doubtful the Chinese will succeed.
We’re generally free to innovate act, travel, learn, and speak as we please (along with many other freedoms). The Chinese, on the other hand, aren’t. Their whole lives are directed by their government bureaucrats and their government is the epitome of Big Government.
That freedom gives us a huge step up and is also a driving force of conflict between our nations. Just look at what is happening in Hong Kong. There, those who support the American idea of freedom are facing off against communist thugs. Hopefully, the freedom-loving citizens of Hong Kong will win.
Conclusion: America Needs to Fight to Win Now that It is in a New Cold War with China
Ferguson’s article on how America is in a new Cold War with China is an article about current military affairs and geopolitics that you need to read. He lays out an excellent and well-supported concept of why America is in a new Cold War with China and does so in an interesting way. You should read it. It will help you see what’s going on with Trump and China.
Finally, I hope this article helped you see why it’s so important to help Trump tame China and fight back against Chinese industrial espionage. We’re now in a Cold War with them, and need to do whatever it takes to win. Americans understood that in the first Cold War, just read Bridge of Spies or The Best and The Brightest if you don’t believe me. This generation needs to be willing to do the same.
Our greatest mistake in the 20th Century was not having the will to ever crush socialism once and for all. At the times when that was possible, our leaders became weak and drifted towards appeasement. The result was that tens of millions were killed by communism and socialism. The lesson is that we can’t let that happen again; we Americans need to summon the will to win now that we are in a new Cold War with China.
Addendum (April 2020): China’s liability for the Coronavirus outbreak it yet another step down the path to a new Cold War with China because it shows that the US can’t trust them.
By: Gen Z Conservative
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