- - Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping said, “Together, we should push forward these changes that have not happened for 100 years.”

Is the United States paying attention? While we have our hands at each other’s throats, China and Russia are colluding to supplant the U.S. in every way.

Americans are rightly seeing Beijing as the strategic competitor that it is in every area of the world. China seeks to supplant the United States as the leading power, redefine the rules of the road in its favor, end the dominance of the U.S. dollar, and dominate international institutions.

This is all even before one looks at China‘s military ambitions. China is aggressively expanding its nuclear arsenal, which will be among the most modern in the world. It is fielding increasingly capable hypersonic missiles. It now has the world’s largest navy and is establishing its military dominance in the South China Sea.

Simply put, China is becoming more assertive, more aggressive and more ambitious on the world stage — at the expense of American interests.

At the same time, Russia is continuing its disastrous war in Ukraine. With hundreds of thousands of casualties, an increasingly depleted conventional military, and the severing of 30 years of economic connectivity with the West, the future of Russia is terribly bleak. Mr. Putin knows this and is trying to avoid this reality. At home, he is becoming increasingly authoritarian. Abroad, he is turning to the few partners he has left — mainly, China.

Make no mistake about it: Russia and China share the same ambitions in the near term: to unseat the United States, undermine the West, and end the rule of law on the international stage.

This is not idle speculation, but rather the words of Messrs. Xi and Putin, who recently said they “urge the United States to stop undermining international and regional security and global strategic stability in order to maintain its own unilateral military superiority,” a rich comment coming from the countries most responsible for destabilizing the international order.

There is no downside for China in this relationship, even in the face of war in Ukraine. Even a minor victory for Russia against Ukraine and its Western backers would be a win for Mr. Xi. The West would be discredited, and the Kremlin would herald its victory.

If China manages to act as a mediator between Moscow and Kyiv (an unlikely prospect — its 12-point plan is hardly a framework to resolve the war), Beijing comes out on top, looking like a global statesman. If Russia loses, as appears increasingly likely, Moscow will become even more beholden to Beijing — a process that is already well underway.

The power relationship between Russia and China is already tilting significantly in Beijing’s favor, a process that was well underway before Moscow invaded Ukraine. With the West severing its economic connections with Russia, Moscow has only China to look to as a trading partner of any significant size. From buying up Russian companies to consuming Russian energy resources, China is reaping a fire sale. If this is what’s happening now, just think about how much Beijing will gain if Moscow loses in Ukraine.

What we are seeing is the solidification of a Sino-Russian relationship, that while perhaps not a formal alliance, is a friendship with “no limits.”

This relationship should be top of mind for every policymaker and every potential presidential candidate. The ambitions of Russia and China will see American security undermined, the American economy weakened, the international order that so many fought and died to secure ended. It is not an abstract issue that is “over there” but one that will affect the economic and national security of every American, their children, and their grandchildren, unless we respond in a way that aligns our policies with our principles.

We must invest in our military today, putting the right capabilities in the hands of our men and women in uniform to ensure that conflict is first deterred, but should that deterrence fail, ended in our favor. We must work with our allies and partners in the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific that share our values, working to enhance collective security and strengthen deterrence. The challenge Russia and China together represent requires an allied response.

At home, we need to ensure we can compete in the contest in which we find ourselves, but also be prepared for conflict should it come. This means strengthening our supply chains, investing in our competitiveness, and removing barriers to innovation. This means investing in our citizens as well — an informed and educated citizenry is a competitive citizenry, prepared for the future that is rapidly arriving.

The American way of life is NOT a given. Countless patriots before us worked hard to ensure we have the prosperity that exists today. Russia and China are competing to win. It’s time we do so as well.

• Mike Rogers served as the Republican representative in Congress for the 8th District of Michigan from 2000 until 2015, including as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee from 2011 to 2015. He is the founder of Leadership to Ensure the American Dream, an initiative to reignite optimism in American politics and identify bold solutions to our nation’s toughest issues.

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