Trump’s Actions on China Speak Louder Than Bolton’s Words

◎ The Trump team’s record on security and human rights vis-à-vis China to this point surpasses anything done in prior administrations.


In March 2011, President Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that, considering both capabilities and intent, Communist China presented “the greatest mortal threat” to the United States, followed by Russia.

In the ensuing years, in the face of faltering U.S. responses, China expanded and intensified its hostile actions against American interests and values. Consistent with President Trump’s call for a dramatic new approach, within months of taking office, his administration’s National Security Strategy described China’s multidimensional assault: “China is using economic inducements and penalties, influence operations … implied military threats, infrastructure investments and trade strategies [to] reinforce its geopolitical aspirations.”

Together with its National Defense Strategy, the administration laid its policy cards on the table: For all the strategic moderation, goodwill and cooperation that were supposed to follow decades of generous Western engagement, but did not, China (and Russia) must be treated henceforth as “strategic competitors” and “revisionist powers.”

First published in The Hill.

Joseph Bosco served as China country director for the Secretary of Defense from 2005 to 2006 and as Asia-Pacific director of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief from 2009 to 2010. He is a nonresident fellow at the Institute for Corean-American Studies and the Institute for Taiwan-American Studies, and has held nonresident appointments in the Asia-Pacific program at the Atlantic Council and the Southeast Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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