On December 18, U.S. President Donald Trump released his first National Security Strategy (NSS) at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington D,C. Referring to China, together with Russia, as rival and revisionist powers, the NSS sharply criticized China for challenging American power, even stealing U.S. intellectual property. The United States’ severe allegations immediately sparked a backlash from China. The Chinese foreign ministry along with Chinese media reprimanded the United States for “malicious slander.”
The latest NSS laid forward the Trump administration’s harshest stance toward China since Trump took office in January. Singling China out for 33 mentions, the report bluntly criticized China for seeking to “challenge American influence, values, and wealth,” “attempting to erode American security and prosperity,” and using “technology, propaganda, and coercion to shape a world antithetical to” U.S. interests and values.
Specifically, the NSS claimed that “China seeks to displace the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, expand the reaches of its state-driven economic model, and reorder the region in its favor. ” The report even accused China of stealing “U.S. intellectual property valued at hundreds of billions of dollars. ”
Other than these fierce charges, the report further made clear U.S. disappointment toward China’s “development with Chinese characteristics” over the years. It said:
For decades, U.S. policy was rooted in the belief that support for China’s rise and for its integration into the post-war international order would liberalize China. Contrary to our hopes, China expanded its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others. China gathers and exploits data on an unrivaled scale and spreads features of its authoritarian system, including corruption and the use of surveillance. It is building the most capable and well-funded military in the world, after our own. Its nuclear arsenal is growing and diversifying. Part of China’s military modernization and economic expansion is due to its access to the U.S. innovation economy, including America’s world-class universities.
Unsurprisingly, the Chinese authorities were deeply irritated by the report. The reaction of the Chinese foreign ministry dominated nearly the entire regular press conference the next day.
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying made an extremely lengthy response on December 19, saying in a harsh tone that “It is futile for any country or any report to distort the facts or hurl malicious slander. ”
She urged the United States “to stop deliberately distorting China’s strategic intentions, and abandon such outdated concepts as the Cold War mentality and the zero-sum game.”
She also defended China’s “path of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” claiming that “History and the reality have proven that this is a successful path that suits China’s national conditions and can achieve national prosperity and enable the Chinese people to live a happy life. ”
“China firmly safeguards its own sovereignty, security, and development interests and no one should have the illusion that China would swallow the bitter fruit of jeopardizing its own interests,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy in Washington also harshly blamed the United States, saying that “any attempt to put the national interests of some countries above others’ and the international community’s interests reflects self-centeredness that would lead to nowhere but self-isolation.”
Chinese media attacks on the Trump administration were even harder. The Global Times, for example, claimed that the administration was “blinded by arrogance” and “false beliefs.”
Despite the wave of counterattacks, Chinese authorities still signaled their attempt to maintain a stable relationship with the United States.
Hua said that China and the United States should work together to uphold “world peace and stability and promoting global development and prosperity.”
China’s state news agency, Xinhua, also published a commentary urging the United States to regard China as a partner rather than a rival.