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Huanqiu: Ministry of State Security Commented on the U.S.’ Policies Towards China

Huanqiu published an unexpected commentary by the Ministry of State Security concerning the United States’ policies towards China. Typically, such remarks emanate from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The commentary asserts that while the U.S. has shifted its strategy from the “old two approaches” to the “new two approaches” and claims that it is doomed for failure.

The core excerpt from the commentary reads as follows:

In previous decades, the U.S. adhered to the “old two approaches” regarding China, characterized as “Contact + Containment.” This approach entailed on one hand, engaging China within the international system and fostering cooperation, while concurrently executing covert infiltration and containment strategies against China. This dual-handed approach intricately shaped the complexity that has historically marked Sino-U.S. relations.

In the contemporary geopolitical landscape, the rivalry between the two global powers, the United States and China, has unequivocally become the prevailing theme in international politics. Consequently, Sino-U.S. relations have entered a novel phase, with the U.S. unveiling its “Competition + Control Competition” strategy.

The crux of this strategy lies in “Competition,” constituting the primary thrust of the U.S. approach. It encompasses economic decoupling, political coalition-building, security deterrence, information warfare, and norm/rule setting endeavors. Both the Trump and Biden administrations have been steadfast and increasingly assertive in their pursuit of this approach. Looking ahead, the U.S. may well implement even more formidable “competition” measures, with many yet unseen.

Simultaneously, the U.S. has adopted a discernible “Control Competition” tactic. While “Competition” seeks to stymie China, “Control Competition” seeks to manage this suppression without permitting it to spiral out of control. The Biden administration has repeatedly referenced concepts like “guardrails,” “thresholds,” and “parameters,” transitioning from the notion of “decoupling” to “de-risking,” and vocally committing to the “Four No’s and One Unintentional.” All these actions are aimed at maintaining control over the competitive dynamics. “Competition” constitutes a strategic move, whereas “Controlling Competition” is more tactical and serves as a complementary aspect of the overall competitive strategy.

This shift in strategy reflects three underlying objectives of the U.S. government:

  • Dissemination of Ambiguous Signals: By releasing “mixed signals,” the U.S. aims to obfuscate its intentions and make it challenging for its opponent (China) to decipher and evaluate its actions—a fundamental tactic reminiscent of the Cold War era.
  • Mitigating Overreactions: The U.S. endeavors to forestall any excessive reactions from its opponent by exhibiting “self-restraint,” a strategy that has a historical precedent in the annals of great power politics over the past few centuries.
  • Expanding Channels of Influence: The U.S. seeks to create a “dialog window” to augment avenues for influence, thereby fostering limited cooperation with its opponent.

Source: Huanqiu, September 3, 2023