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Cheng Xiaonong: U.S.-China Strategic Relations Have Crystallized

{Editor’s Note: In a recent article titled “U.S.-China Strategic Relations Have Crystallized” published on Radio Free Asia, Cheng Xiaonong, a researcher living in exile in the U.S., posits that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) precipitated a new Cold War with the U.S. through its provocative naval exercises near Midway Atoll in 2020. The article highlights the institutional deficiencies within the CCP that led to this strategic misstep by Xi Jinping. Focusing on the CCP’s lack of understanding regarding international politics, the article highlights the CCP’s failure to learn lessons from the Cold-War-era tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States. It posits that the CCP leadership’s erroneous perception of the prevailing international climate resulted from the high degree of secrecy enveloping the CCP’s foreign policy decision-making processes as well as from the constraints under which CCP think tanks operate. The following is a full-text translation of the original Chinese article [1].}

U.S.-China Strategic Relations Have Crystallized

In recent weeks, notable figures from U.S. political and military circles have offered a series of significant insights into U.S.-China relations, bringing greater clarity to the diplomatic rhetoric that has characterized America’s approach toward China over the past two years. These insights address two fundamental aspects: first, the reasons behind the deterioration of U.S.-China relations; and second, the strategies the U.S. will employ to counter the perceived threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Deterioration of China-U.S. Relations: Causes and Direction

In recent years I have repeatedly highlighted one particular incident: In January 2020, the CCP deployed its naval fleet to the waters near Midway Atoll to conduct military exercises, [simulating an attack] against a U.S. naval base. [2] The official Chinese media announced that these maneuvers were “pointing a sword at Pearl Harbor” and that “an attack on Taiwan must be accompanied by an attack on the U.S.” This provocative action effectively ignited a new U.S.-China Cold War. By engaging in such a confrontational move, China, a nuclear power, effectively nullified the strategic alliance forged between the two nations following President Nixon’s historic visit [to China].

Driven by a need for external expansion, China has, from the early 2020’s onward, adopted a military posture that strategically threatened the United States. As a result, the maintenance of an alliance between the two nations has become untenable, and the relationship between the U.S. and China has devolved into one of rivalry and hostility. The genesis of this new U.S.-China Cold War can be traced back to the actions of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Did the CCP comprehend at the time that its provocative ‘Sword-Pointed-at-Pearl-Harbor’ exercise would catalyze the onset of a Cold War with the U.S.? This crucial question will be explored in the subsequent sections of this article.

For nearly three decades following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the conclusion of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War, the U.S. did not face any hostile nuclear power in its international relations; only minor regional powers disturbed the global order. The CCP’s actions have now precipitated a new Cold War, abruptly ending a thirty-year period of relative peace and stability. China, a nuclear-armed power, intent on reshaping the world order, has emerged as the most formidable threat to global peace and security.

What does China stand to gain by instigating a Cold War with the U.S.? This is another question that warrants in-depth exploration, which I will address in a separate article. Prior to this, the U.S.-China alliance was founded on the premise of joint efforts in the [prior] Cold War against the Soviet Union. During the Mao era, China’s national security was de facto integrated under the nuclear umbrella voluntarily offered by the United States. After China’s “reform and opening-up,” the alliance between the U.S. and China allowed China to gradually reap immense economic and technological benefits. The U.S. opened its markets to China, provided scientific research cooperation, and facilitated various forms of investment, rapidly boosting China’s economic and technological prowess. In the late 1970s, the U.S. even supplied China with advanced military equipment for its land forces (such as new artillery systems) in order to bolster China’s military strength.

In the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse, U.S.-China relations grew increasingly close as China embraced economic globalization. Numerous American companies shifted their supply chains to China, transforming many U.S. industries into clusters of sales companies whose manufacturing operations were based in China. For example, consider the [U.S.] pharmaceutical industry.

Common sense suggests that the Chinese Communist Party’s instigation of a U.S.-China Cold War will utterly demolish the half-century of trust and mutually-beneficial cooperation that the two nations have built, resulting in enormous losses for China. Why, then, has the CCP so resolutely embarked on this strategic path towards a Cold War with the U.S.? This perplexing question warrants an analytical examination. The key question is: does this represents an accidental misstep by the CCP’s decision-makers, or was it a calculated move?

The “Salami Attack” by the Red Power

After World War II, beginning in 1945, Joseph Stalin gradually and methodically expanded Soviet control over Eastern Europe, violating the agreements made between the U.S. and the Soviet Union at the Yalta and Potsdam conferences. Stalin directed the communist parties in the Soviet-occupied regions of Eastern Europe to seize power, one country after another. They relied on the presence of Soviet occupation forces and employed tactics such as political polarization, unification of opposition groups, fostering of class conflicts, co-option of influential individuals, and manipulation of elections – strategies they had learned through training in Moscow. The newly established communist regimes in Eastern European nations then tightly controlled their societies using secret police. They continuously suppressed civil opposition, transforming formerly-free societies into authoritarian states modeled after the Soviet Union.

As Eastern European nations fell under communist rule one by one, the local populace organized various resistance activities to oppose Soviet control. In response, the Soviet army employed tanks to brutally suppress anti-Soviet uprisings in East Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. The Soviet Union, which was the preeminent red power, adopted this strategy of “nibbling away” [at Eastern European nations], and it succeeded in establishing a vast sphere of influence comprising much of Eastern Europe – regions that originally laid outside the Soviet Union’s territory.

In extolling the Soviet Union’s strategy of nibbling away at Eastern Europe, Hungarian Communist Party leader Mátyás Rákosi famously praised Stalin, saying that the strategy was a type of “salami attack.” This metaphor is derived from salami, a popular type of European smoked sausage that is commonly consumed in slices. Rákosi described his own Moscow-backed Hungarian [Communist] party as employing such a gradual, step-by-step approach: first, it polarized the non-pro-Soviet political forces; then it gained influence with the centrists; and finally it united the majority of left-wing [Hungarian political] parties while systematically destroying the non-communist factions that had initially dominated elections. Much like slicing salami, they dismantled the opposition piece-by-piece to bring the region under Soviet control.

Subsequently, Rákosi’s salami analogy became a lens through which the West viewed and understood the Soviet Union’s strategy of foreign expansion. The “salami attack,” also known as a ” salami-slicing tactic,” referred to this methodical strategy employed by the Soviet regime. Rather than pursuing their ultimate goals all at once through overt aggression, which could arouse vigilance and opposition among local populations, Soviet agents instead undertook a series of incremental actions. Each seemingly small step allowed them to make gradual inroads, slicing away resistance piece by piece, until they had accumulated sufficient gains to fully realize their overarching aims of annexing territories into the Soviet sphere of influence.

From a political perspective, the Soviet strategy involved utilizing united front work or the bribing of communist allies in Eastern European nations so as to undermine political freedom, the rule of law, and freedom of the press. By weakening the social support for the ruling parties in those countries and distorting their freedom of speech through red infiltration, the Soviet Union aimed to achieve the goal of foreign expansion, ultimately annexing those nations through disintegration and fragmentation. In recent years, the Chinese Communist Party’s military harassment and political infiltration in Taiwan can be seen as a typical “salami attack.”

The U.S. and the Soviet Union were allies during World War II, and this alliance persisted into the early years of the post-war era. During the first few years following the war, U.S. President Harry Truman (of the Democratic Party) did not make efforts to prevent the Soviet Union’s systematic “salami attack” against Eastern European countries. Consequently, many non-Soviet-aligned governments in local countries were replaced one-by-one by Soviet agents, and the nations of Eastern Europe were gradually “sliced” onto a “dinner plate” for the Red Power, eventually forming a regional Communist bloc.

Comparison of the Cold War Experiences of the Soviet Union, the U.S., and China

The U.S.-Soviet Cold War was not initiated by the CCP; it was sparked by the Soviet Union shortly after World War II. The U.S.-China Cold War has been the second such confrontation faced by humanity; we now once again see a Communist power pitted against the U.S. During the U.S.-Soviet Cold War, the U.S. gradually accumulated experience in dealing with the threats posed by Communist powers. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union progressively learned how to “avoid hot war” during a period of cold war. Due to the unique historical background of the CCP, it did not learn these crucial lessons. Consequently, after China instigated the U.S.-China Cold War in 2020, it gradually realized that it was paying an increasingly higher political and economic price for its lack of understanding of the fundamental principles governing Cold War dynamics.

The Soviet Union’s “salami attacks” in Eastern Europe after World War II proved effective, and the Iron Curtain of the Cold War descended, cutting off Eastern Europe from Western and Central Europe. It was during this period that U.S. President Harry Truman recognized the gravity of the international situation. He responded by proposing the “Truman Doctrine” in March 1947, aiming to prevent the Soviet Union from carrying out further “salami attacks” in Southeastern Europe, and simultaneously accelerating the implementation of the “Marshall Plan” to revitalize the economies of Western Europe. Through these measures, the U.S. and the countries of Western Europe managed to maintain their positions; they thwarted the Soviet Union’s attempted salami attacks against Western Europe, concurrently establishing a land-based NATO military defensive line centered on the border with West Germany.

Later, the U.S. and the Soviet Union went through the “Cuban Missile Crisis,” forming a relatively effective mechanism for stabilizing and controlling the Cold War situation [to prevent hot war]. Simultaneously, the escalating nuclear arms race between the two superpowers created a so-called “balanced nuclear deterrence” whereby both sides possessed the capability to launch comprehensive nuclear strikes. Under the threat of nuclear war, there would be no winners, only losers. The stabilization and control mechanism for the Cold War situation, coupled with the balanced nuclear deterrence strategy adopted by the U.S. and the Soviet Union, prevented the outbreak of direct conflict, averting the danger of a world war and enabling continued prosperity within the Northern Hemisphere’s democracies. Meanwhile, the Soviet bloc eventually reached an impasse and ultimately collapsed due to institutional deficiencies.

It must be said that the Soviet Union [and not just the U.S.] was also actively gaining experience from the U.S.-Soviet Cold War. Stalin served as the Soviet Union’s bellicose leader in the post-World-War-II-era; he forcefully emphasized the inevitability of conflict between the communist and capitalist worlds, delivering a speech in February of 1946 where he said that war was unavoidable as long as the capitalist system existed. After his death in 1953, his successors pivoted away from his international strategy; they preferred a course of peaceful coexistence with the West, adopting a foreign policy aimed at fostering peace based on mutual trust.

Now, consider China. Mao Zedong served as China’s bellicose leader in the second half of the 20th century; he wanted to seize the leading position within the Communist bloc, and he thus opposed the Soviet Union’s pursuit of peaceful coexistence with the West. Although China had once been a key member of the communist camp, it ultimately fell out with the Soviet Union, even facing the threat of nuclear war. The U.S. capitalized on this opportunity, recruiting China as a “red ally” against the Soviet Union. Suddenly, the CCP was afforded the protection of the U.S. “nuclear umbrella” during the period when its own nuclear weapons were still immature and its long-range delivery vehicles were still under development. As a result of this nuclear protection by the U.S., China only experienced a less intense Cold War with the Soviet Union. This led China to completely disregard the positive lessons that the Soviet Union drew from its U.S.-Soviet Cold War.

Therefore, the fundamental difference between the CCP and the Soviet Union lies in the fact that the CCP has not truly learned from the Cold War, and so it has no understanding of how to “play a Cold War.” In contrast, the Soviet Union developed such an understanding starting from 1953. The CCP has consistently harbored the belief that, by employing the “salami attacks” previously utilized by the Soviet Union, it can force the U.S. to back down and thereby achieve its strategic objectives: foreign expansion and breaking through the “First Island Chain.” It was not until Xi and Biden met in San Francisco in November 2023 that the CCP recognized the necessity of establishing a control mechanism for stabilization of a [U.S.-China] Cold War.

The U.S.’s New View on U.S.-China Relations

The CCP’s strategy against the U.S. began to take shape as early as the end of the last century. At that time, China acquired the decommissioned aircraft carrier Varyag and a complete set of blueprints from Ukraine, with the goal of building an ocean-going carrier fleet capable of threatening the existing international order in the Indo-Pacific region. In the present century, the CCP’s foreign “salami attacks” have attempted to gradually weaken or diminish U.S. defense activities in East Asia by employing a strategy of skirting established rules. Furthermore, in the realm of espionage, the CCP has employed a method of accumulating minor gains, gradually stealing U.S. military and civilian technologies bit by bit to bolster China’s scientific and technological prowess.

The CCP’s decision to escalate tensions with the U.S. in early 2020 was the second time that China has turned on its greatest contemporary ally. The first instance occurred when China confronted the Soviet Union, its “Soviet Big Brother,” and the U.S. came to the aid of the CCP regime. This time around, China turned against the United States. As the U.S. gradually recognized the real threat posed by the CCP’s intentions, it resurrected the “basket” of strategies and tactics that had proven effective in the era of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War. These time-tested policies have been deployed anew to address the challenges now presented by the CCP’s actions.

Although China was the one that started this U.S.-China Cold War, cold wars are necessarily interactive processes involving [actions by] two powers. As long as the U.S. has not explicitly recognized this new dynamic in its relationship with China, the notion of a Cold War between the two nations remains hypothetical, or a potential future scenario. From 2020 to 2023, the Biden administration exercised caution in its diplomacy with China, employing the term “competitor” to characterize the relationship. The November 2023 Biden-Xi meeting in San Francisco then marked a turning point, as the specifics of the U.S.-China Summit Dialogue clarified the substance of this new phase in the bilateral relationship.

In 2021, during a meeting between senior diplomats from China and the U.S. in Alaska, the U.S. proposed the establishment of “guardrails” in the U.S.-China relationship. Just as highways require guardrails on both sides to ensure the safety of vehicles, this metaphor suggests the need for boundaries to prevent the derailment of the relationship between the two nations. During the Cold War era, the confrontational dynamic between the two nuclear powers, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, left the world with a valuable lesson: despite strategic competition, the two sides must collaborate to seek peace, lest they embark on a path leading to total destruction.

However, at the time [of the meeting in Alaska], Chinese diplomats failed to grasp this core concept of international security, as the CCP’s decision-making circles lacked sufficient knowledge on how to navigate international relations during a Cold War scenario. Under the CCP’s centralized system, the top diplomats and the relevant think tanks serving the upper echelons of the CCP dared only to cater to Xi Jinping’s thinking. There were those who played the role of “wolf warrior,” but none who played the role of “pouring cold water.”

From 2020 to 2023, the Biden administration made efforts to engage in dialogue with Beijing, but Xi Jinping consistently rebuffed these attempts at positive communication. Concurrently, China pursued the construction of seven artificial islands in the South China Sea, effectively creating maritime military bases, attempting to turn the region into an “inland sea” under its control. The true objective behind the CCP’s “salami attacks” in the South China Sea is to establish a “deep-sea fortress” capable of concealing China’s strategic nuclear submarines. Coupled with the precise global navigation capabilities of the Beidou satellite system, this endeavor aims to realize the ability to strike the entire territory of the United States with strategic nuclear missiles. What follows next would be the leveraging this threat to demand strategic concessions.

In the wake of China’s descent into severe economic difficulties last year, Xi Jinping recognized the necessity of significant U.S. financial investment to prop up China’s faltering economy. Consequently, he agreed to travel to San Francisco for a meeting with President Biden. It was not until this pivotal encounter that he lent an ear to the series of critical points that Biden articulated regarding the significant risks imperiling the U.S.-China relationship.

So, what precisely is the official U.S. perception of current U.S.-China relations? Daniel J. Kritenbrink, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, stated in Washington on February 21st of this year that China is benefiting from the current international system even as it has been actively attempting to undermine it. On January 16th, Admiral John C. Aquilino, the Commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, remarked at the Pacific Forum in Honolulu that the situation in the Indo-Pacific region has become tense, attributing this to the fact that “What I think is changed is not the United States …… what has changed is the activity and actions by the adversaries in the region, and in your case, specifically, the PRC.” [3] Furthermore, on January 31st, U.S. CIA Director Burns published an article in the U.S. magazine Foreign Affairs where he clearly observed that “The issue is not China’s rise in itself but the threatening actions that increasingly accompany it.” [4] These statements succinctly encapsulate the basic perception of the U.S. intelligence community regarding the current threat posed by the CCP.

What Strategy Will the U.S. Use to Counter the CCP’s Threats?

On January 30, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations, a U.S. think tank, about the future of U.S.-China relations. He said, “We determined that the PRC was the only state with both the intent to reshape the international order and the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do it. … it was pursuing the largest peacetime military buildup in history; and that it was more repressive at home and more assertive abroad, including in the South and East China Seas as well as the Taiwan Strait. We saw the PRC working to make the world more dependent on China while reducing its own dependence on the world. And we saw it taking steps to adapt the international system to accommodate its own system and preferences. We also saw … that the PRC believed the United States was in terminal decline …, and that many in Beijing were openly proclaiming that ‘the East was rising and the West was falling.’” [5]

Sullivan said, “We realize that efforts, implied or explicit, to shape or change the PRC over several decades did not succeed. … The United States can take steps to advance its interests and values and those of its allies and partners on the one hand, while responsibly managing competition on the other. … And in fact, the United States has decades of experience talking to and even working with our competitors when our interests call for it.”

Sullivan made two main points: first, the CCP is [currently] the greatest threat to international peace; second, the international community can only effectively address the challenge posed by the CCP through the application of strategies and tactics akin to those employed during the U.S.-Soviet Cold War era. The “decades of experience” that Sullivan alluded to are, in fact, rooted in the historical context of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War. The U.S. has now unequivocally identified the CCP as an international threat and has subsequently begun applying the lessons learned from the U.S.-Soviet Cold War to its current relationship with China. These efforts have already started yielding results. A pivotal milestone in this regard was Xi Jinping’s assurance to President Biden, given at the November 2023 meeting in San Francisco, that China has no intentions of attacking Taiwan.

During his address at the Munich Security Conference on February 17th, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivered a strikingly candid remark, asserting that “if you’re not at the table in the international system, you’re going to be on the menu.” [6] This poignant statement encapsulates the consequences of the CCP’s deliberate choice to challenge the established international system and order: China has effectively transitioned from being a participant at the proverbial dinner table to finding itself on the menu.

The Institutional Context Behind the CCP’s Initiation of a U.S.-China Cold War

The opening of the U.S.-China Cold War can be attributed to Xi Jinping’s desire for greater military control and the resulting expansion across all of China’s military branches. Historically, the ground forces of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have taken the lead [in China’s military], followed by the air force and navy. In asserting control over the Indo-Pacific maritime domain, however, the previously neglected navy became the main force [for China] to rely upon. Seizing an unprecedented opportunity under Xi’s foreign expansionist agenda, the navy embarked on a comprehensive modernization program for its naval fleet. In this sense, the navy [leadership’s] own expansionist agenda has profoundly reshaped China’s international relations, despite the navy’s lack of nuanced understanding of the intricate dynamics involved.

The CCP’s leadership has long exhibited a proclivity for military adventurism, fueled by grand international ambitions that have consistently regarded the U.S. as the foremost strategic threat. Whenever an opportunity arises, the CCP challenges U.S. dominance, attempting to force incremental concessions. As a great power, China’s mindset is entrenched in the paradigm of great power competition and confrontation, with the communist regime harboring aspirations of global preeminence. From a naval perspective, cross-strait relations are merely one component of a broader strategy. Indeed, the slogan shouted during the Midway maneuvers, “Attacking Taiwan means attacking the U.S.,” encapsulates the overarching naval doctrine that equates the Taiwan issue with a direct challenge to American primacy.

The military is not the final decision maker, however. Regarding Xi Jinping’s approval of the navy’s Midway maneuvers and the ensuing Cold War with the U.S., the biggest driving factor was a fundamental lack of understanding [within the CCP] of international politics as well as of critical knowledge regarding China’s relations with its neighbors. This deficiency is not merely attributable to Xi’s personal lack of awareness; it is symptomatic of broader institutional failings.

International politics encompasses both great power dynamics and relations with neighboring states. There are numerous think tanks within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) apparatus and government organizations; two institutional factors have undermined the effectiveness of these think tanks. Firstly, the CCP’s foreign intelligence operations are shrouded in secrecy, even internally. Secondly, these think tanks operate under constraints that only permit narratives that are deferential to their superiors, stifling candid analysis.

The CCP’s foreign policymaking process operates under a veil of secrecy, treating utterances by successive party and government leaders on foreign affairs as classified information. Zhou Enlai famously instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) that “foreign affairs have no small matter,” implying the MFA wielded no decision-making authority. Moreover, when accompanying Party leaders during meetings with foreign dignitaries, all records had to be surrendered for sealing, as the contents of such conversations were deemed state secrets at the highest level. Due to this practice of meticulously sealing diplomatic files, the CCP leaders who followed Mao Zedong remained largely uninformed about the nuances of China’s relations with neighboring countries. China’s foreign policy is determined entirely by the personal words and actions of the given era’s paramount leader; insights are not shared with the upper echelons below the top leader, as doing so could imperil the leader’s infallible image [within the Communist Party].

As an illustrative example, Mao Zedong made a series of five promises to Kim Il-Sung, assuring the North Korean leader that China’s three northeastern provinces could be ceded to North Korea. Kim Il-Sung dutifully reported the details of these conversations, including the time, place, and content of Mao’s promises, to Moscow, resulting in Russia possessing a comprehensive record. However, the post-Mao Chinese Communist Party leadership remained entirely oblivious to these commitments. Consequently, when Kim Jong-Il, succeeding his father, proposed to the then-paramount leader Jiang Zemin that he visit the three northeastern provinces, Jiang was utterly bewildered and at a loss for an appropriate response, unaware of the historical context underlying Kim’s request.

Xi Jinping’s grave strategic miscalculation – precipitating a new Cold War with the U.S. – was, in fact, an inevitable consequence of systemic flaws in the CCP’s governing apparatus and ideological orientation. Experts on international affairs within China lack comprehensive knowledge of the Party’s intricate foreign relations history, and they lack the audacity to undertake systematic research delving into the CCP’s opaque past. Bereft of in-depth analyses from homegrown experts, subsequent generations of CCP leadership beyond Mao Zedong have remained profoundly ignorant of the nuances and complexities that have shaped China’s foreign relations over time.

Ultimately, the shortsightedness of the Chinese Communist Party has become its undoing. Successive CCP leaders have remained oblivious to the intricacies of their predecessors’ processes for decision-making on external affairs. Thus, the new leaders have been deprived of critical insights necessary to truly comprehend the nuances of international politics and relations. Compounding this knowledge deficit, policy recommendations from think tanks inevitably amount to little more than empty platitudes, unable to shed light on the origins of many closely-guarded state secrets. This institutional myopia provides the backdrop for Xi Jinping’s aggressive attempt to emulate Mao Zedong: he erroneously perceived the international environment as propitious for China’s ascendancy.

[1] Radio Free Asia, “Strategic Clarification of U.S.-China Relations,” February 26, 2024.
[2] The Chinascope team was unable to find English-language media sources covering the PLAN’s January 2020 maritime exercises near Midway Atoll. Cheng Xiaonong’s earlier essay, published by the Australian Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) ( cited an article by Duowei News (多维新闻), an overseas Chinese language outlet controlled by the CCP. What follows is a quotation from that essay by Cheng, followed by an English translation: 《多维新闻网》今年2月22日刊登了报道,《中国舰队挺进敏感海域》,“本周中国军方媒体集中报道了该国南部战区海军1支新锐舰队在距离本土7千公里外的太平洋深处以战斗姿态示人的军事行动……这支舰队从美国中途岛以南500公里处通过变更线,‘逼近’夏威夷。从地图上可以看出,中国海军5艘新锐战舰目前正处于夏威夷、中途岛、关岛三点之间的太平洋上,这是美国在二战中击退日本海军后掌控的核心海域,而夏威夷又作为第三岛链的关键节点,是通向美国本土的最后屏障。迄今为止,很少有国家以战斗姿态涉足于此”。(translation: Duowei News carried a story titled “Chinese Fleet Advances into Sensitive Waters” on February 22 of this year (2020). The story said “This week, Chinese military media focused on the military operations of a brand new fleet belonging to the country’s Southern Theater Naval Operations. The fleet was in a combat stance in the Pacific Ocean, 7,000 kilometers away from the mainland. …… This fleet ‘approached’ Hawaii by passing through the International Date Line 500 kilometers south of Midway Atoll, which belongs to the U.S. As can be seen from the map, five of the Chinese Navy’s newest warships are currently positioned in the Pacific Ocean between the points of Hawaii, Midway Atoll, and Guam. This is the core of the sea area controlled by the U.S. after it beat back the Japanese Navy during World War II. Hawaii, as a key node in this island chain, is the final barrier before the U.S. mainland. To date, few nations have dared to venture here in a combat posture.”)
[3] Aquilino, John C. 2024. “Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Keynote and Q&A at the Pacific Forum.” Transcript of speech delivered at Pacific Forum in Honolulu, January 26, 2024.
[4] Burns, William J. “Spycraft and Statecraft: Transforming the CIA for an Age of Competition.” Foreign Affairs, January 30, 2024.
[5] Sullivan, Jake. 2024. “Remarks and Q&A by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on the Future of U.S.-China Relations.” Transcript of speech delivered at the Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, D.C., January 30, 2024.
[6] Blinken, Antony J. 2024. “Secretary Antony J. Blinken, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, And Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar At the Munich Security Conference.” Transcript of interview at the Munich Security Conference, Munich, Germany, February 17, 2024.