Return to

March 30, 2023
Notes from the Pentagon

U.S. needs to be ready to meet challenge presented by ‘new Cold War’ with China

By Bill Gertz
The United States is engaged in a new Cold War with China and needs to counter the “existential” threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party to the United States and the world order it leads, according to a major new report by the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.

The report offers detailed foreign and domestic policy prescriptions built on the policies used in the Cold War with the Soviet Union, a clash that ended with its collapse in 1991. The authors expose CCP tactics and issue a call to arms for all segments of government and society.

“Cold Wars aren’t new, but it is now indisputable that the challenge of China is a new Cold War,” said James Carafano, Heritage vice president and editor of the report. “What this report explains is not just why it’s a different Cold War but exactly how to fight it and win it.”

“The greatest existential threat facing the United States today is the People’s Republic of China, led and controlled by the Chinese Communist Party,” Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts added. “Whether politicians and pundits in Washington care to acknowledge it or not, the United States is in a new Cold War with the PRC, an adversary even more capable and dangerous than the Soviet Union was at the height of its power.”

According to the report, the “authoritarian regime in Beijing — its global ambitions, growing power, and values diametrically opposed to America’s own — poses the greatest threat the United States has faced since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In both word and deed, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), a one-party state ruled by the CCP, has made it abundantly clear that it is determined to supplant U.S. global leadership, establish hegemony over the Indo-Pacific, and rewrite the international order in the CCP’s image.”

The report states that the Biden administration has repeatedly said it is not seeking a Cold War with China but has failed to recognize the reality of Chinese Cold War tactics being employed against the United States.

“It does us little good to repeat again and again that we aren’t seeking a new Cold War when the CCP has been stealthily waging one against us for years,” Matt Pottinger, a former deputy national security adviser, recently told a new congressional select committee on China.

The plan offers a set of comprehensive policies that range from banning CCP lobbying in the United States to bolstering nuclear deterrence against a growing Chinese nuclear threat. It also calls for action to end China’s role in supplying materials to manufacture the deadly synthetic opiate fentanyl, which is killing more than 100,000 Americans annually.

Chinese police operations in several U.S. cities would also be shuttered under the plan.

“It is past time for a plan to protect the American homeland from nefarious PRC actions and take the fight to the Chinese Communist Party,” the report said.

The plan is an indirect criticism of President Biden and his administration, which adopted a policy of competing with China while seeking to cooperate with Beijing on issues such as North Korea and climate change. China’s leaders, critics say, have rejected such cooperation and demanded changes to U.S. policy that return to earlier conciliatory relations.

The report’s key recommendations include a federal ban on Confucius Institutes, the Chinese official cultural and language centers that critics say are being used to promote the ruling party’s policies. Chinese applications for computer devices such as the video-sharing app TikTok should also be banned as threats to Americans’ personal information, the report said.

State and local governments should deny Chinese companies contracts that involve critical U.S. infrastructure, according to the report. Chinese land usage in the U.S., now estimated to encompass more than 350,000 acres, should be banned.

The report also urges Congress to outlaw lobbying by agents of the Chinese government and require those who lobby for Chinese government-linked companies to register as foreign agents.

Greater controls on the U.S. border and immigration should be imposed to halt the flow of Chinese-origin fentanyl, and Chinese fentanyl-linked companies should be sanctioned. Environmental statutes also should be revised to expand mining of vital rare-earth elements, a sector heavily dominated by Chinese companies, according to the report.

And Congress should tighten federal restrictions on the export of sensitive technologies sought by the Chinese.

On the military side, the United States needs to rapidly build up naval forces to meet the challenges presented by the Chinese military, including warship purchases with an additional $152 billion. In addition to building up nuclear forces, conventional military forces in the Indo-Pacific must also be built up, the Heritage authors say.

“The U.S. government must make determined efforts to develop and regionally deploy ballistic and cruise missiles formerly prohibited by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty,” the report said.

Increased munitions production should also arm Taiwan. Greater use of economic measures such as tariffs and nontariff barriers are needed to punish predatory Chinese economic practices.

The plan also calls for countering CCP activities to boost their influence within international organizations, such as placing Chinese officials in key positions.

Efforts to expose Chinese human rights abuses also must be increased, including persecution of Christians and other religious minorities.

The report concludes that its ambitious policy prescriptions will require strong congressional backing.

“Ultimately, however, China is foremost an Oval Office problem: The U.S. president must exercise leadership in directing a national plan, as the president’s predecessors did during World War II and the Cold War,” the report said.

Chinese warplane violations near Taiwan analyzed
China is conducting increasingly aggressive military incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, known as the ADIZ, marking a major escalation in warplane incursions against the island democracy, according to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The report analyzed data provided by the Taiwan Defense Ministry on the stepped-up daily air incursions, which reached a peak last August after the visit to Taiwan by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-level U.S. official to visit the island in a quarter century.

The report was produced by Ben Lewis, a Washington-based defense analyst who studies Chinese and Taiwanese security issues. He noted that China‘s large-scale ADIZ incursions began in September 2020.

“Since then, ADIZ violations have become the most frequent method of ‘gray zone’ pressure used against Taiwan by Beijing, with flights taking place on a near-daily basis,” the report said.

According to the report, a total of 1,737 Chinese military aircraft were tracked into the ADIZ in 2022, a 79% increase in flights from the previous year. The average number of monthly aircraft used in the aerial incursions also increased sharply from 81 per month in 2021 to more than 144 per month in 2022.

The report identified three types of ADIZ violations: routine flights with one to five aircraft; assertive violations of six to nine aircraft, and “reactionary” violations like those after the Pelosi visit involving 10 or more aircraft.

“Most reactionary violations are tied to geopolitical developments involving Taiwan, the United States and other regional powers that Beijing believes are contrary to its ‘One China Principle,’” the report said.

Chinese jet flights pressuring Taiwan have involved crossing the center line of the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait and usually involve fighter jets, bombers and surveillance and electronic warfare aircraft. The flights increase tensions and repeatedly force Taiwan to send interceptor jets to track the aircraft.

The incursions have demonstrated increasing military diversity and complexity, the report said. For example, some flights use combinations of aircraft, such as fighters, bombers and unmanned drones.

The report said the ADIZ violations provide valuable insights into the operations of the People’s Liberation Army around Taiwan. Chinese President Xi Jinping has said absorbing Taiwan under the mainland’s control is a core interest of his regime.

The report concluded that little is known about the PLA aviation units involved in the flights.

“Most importantly, however, we have no way of knowing how far these activities will go, how large they may become, or how far Beijing will push the envelope,” the report said. “Further, the more Beijing turns up the dial with its military pressure, the higher the chance for an accident or miscalculation.”

  • Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter via @BillGertz.

  • Return to