- - Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The People’s Republic of China touts the superiority of its system. To China, America’s freedoms manifest weakness. China believes it is the stronger power, for communism allows no dissension.   

This assertion seems almost plausible given our nation’s riots and assaults against the White House and Capitol. However, if important policies persist between administrations that detest each other, such continuity proves that America possesses the more resilient political system.   

Our national policies toward China rank as the most important domain in which continuity between administrations is a necessity. The Biden administration will demonstrate great sagacity if it builds upon the prior administration’s policies in five areas. 

First, America’s military power should be fortified. The Biden administration must continue freedom of navigation challenges, opposing China’s strategy of sea denial. Demonstrating increased emphasis on alliances, our Navy should be joined by ships representing Japan and Australia.   

Elements of military strategy codified by President Carter’s Secretary of Defense, Harold Brown, should be adopted. A “countervailing strategy,” reconstituted for conventional arms, would establish a nimble deterrent against China. Secretary Brown explained his strategy this way, “[W]e must have forces and plans … such that in considering aggression against our interests, our adversary would recognize that no plausible outcome would represent a success. … The prospect of such a failure would then deter an adversary’s attack on … our vital interests.” 

Support for Taiwan’s security is paramount. The world cannot afford China’s becoming a global hegemon, which would swallow Taiwan as it did Hong Kong. The sale of F-35 fighters and missiles to Taiwan is necessary since China is deploying potent, fifth-generation, stealth aircraft.   

Second, build upon the Obama administration’s “2015 Framework for the U.S. ─ India Defense.” Expand the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between the United States, Australia, Japan and India, with the intent of initiating talks to create a NATO-like organization for the Indo-Pacific region. India should become America’s strategic partner, for the world’s largest democracy will soon surpass China in population and economic dynamism ─ attributes necessary to constrain China’s bellicosity. 

Third, embrace nuclear power as a means to provide clean energy, potable water, and development to Africa. Before this century’s end, Africa will become home to the world’s most populous cities. Lagos, Kinshasa and Dar es Salaam will each count more than 70-million inhabitants.   

Only nuclear power can provide the energy for such concentrated populations. China and Russia now dominate in its provision. With each plant, they create strategic redoubts, which coupled with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, will bleed Africa of its mineral riches in a new imperialism. To counter China and Russia, President Biden should support an energy consortium composed of America and its allies, to offer non-exploitative energy alternatives. 

Fourth, intellectual property theft by China must be stopped. President Obama’s former director of National Intelligence documented China’s theft of intellectual property in a groundbreaking 2013 report. The situation has continued to degrade; dollar losses in the last decade alone amount to trillions stolen: a sum sufficient to make one out of every twenty-nine American families instant millionaires.   

America, the NATO nations, and our Indo-Pacific allies must collect and disseminate industry-specific data across borders to stem Chinese theft. Counterfeit parts, including software, which may compromise military systems, must be rooted out through joint efforts, which should include tagging to ensure authenticity.  

Fifth, the American education system must be revamped, with emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). American universities cannot continue as China’s preferred graduate schools.   

Grades K─12 must expand online education. The Department of Education, working with Silicon Valley and local entities, must overhaul teaching methods. Technology exists to map each student’s optimum mode of learning, enabling the mastery of technical subjects. This is critical to support minority communities. In addition, to aid character development and to combat obesity, the administration should create a national program in which disabled veterans would serve as after-school mentors, in charge of athletic programs and community-based outreach.   

Curriculums to create a cadre of manufacturing engineers would permit American factories to expand. U.S. company participation in federal programs should be linked to their support of this initiative. Indeed, Steve Jobs stated that he could have set up factories in America rather than China if manufacturing engineers, in sufficient numbers, were available.   

To replace foreign Chinese students now studying STEM, our nation must recalibrate junior colleges to fill educational gaps faced by minority or disadvantaged students who have the potential, but not the acquired skills, to become successful baccalaureate candidates in technology-driven disciplines.

Many such students do not succeed because they lack the educational foundations that must be acquired before college. Accelerated, remedial, preparatory programs, taken at junior colleges, will secure academic tracks for underprivileged students to attain advanced STEM degrees. To spur this initiative, rapid prototyping and adoption of educational protocols pioneered within the U.S. military would be of immense benefit.   

Made of bronze, ancient Chinese mirrors hid their secrets for 2,000 years.  Embossed on one side with figures, their reverse, highly polished, these mirrors were inscrutable.  When light hits their reflective surface, the image cast into the mirror’s back is projected onto a plane, seemingly making the mirror translucent. In fact, tiny fissures imprint the reverse’s design into the polished surface, allowing its reflection. America must shine a light onto the bronze mirror that is China, so that we may thwart what lies beneath its false expression of non-belligerency. 

• John Poindexter is a physicist and a former assistant to the president for national security affairs. Robert McFarlane is chairman of an international energy company and a former assistant to the president for national security affairs. Richard Levine is a former deputy assistant secretary of the Navy and a former NSC staff director. They are the authors of the book “America’s #1 Adversary and What We Must Do About It ─ Now!”  

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