“. . . What stands out now is just how brazen Beijing has become. Take one detail from Wray’s speech: “We have now reached the point where the F.B.I. is opening a new China-related counterintelligence case about every 10 hours,” he said. In one case, a single scientist, Hongjin Tan, pleaded guilty to stealing an estimated $1 billion in trade secrets from an Oklahoma-based energy company.
But this brings us to the second blunt fact. U.S. power in East Asia is waning. Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership — the single best hedge the U.S. had against Chinese economic dominance of the region — may, in hindsight, prove to be his single worst policy mistake. He has tried to shake down both South Korea and Japan to pay more for basing U.S. forces: penny ante politics that only raise doubts about America’s reliability as an ally.
And then there’s the degraded state of the U.S. Navy, epitomized by the fire on the Bonhomme Richard (itself the latest in a string of corruption, leadership, cost over-run and competency scandals to bedevil the service). Trump came to office with grand plans to build a 355-ship Navy, up from the current 300. The Pentagon all but admits it has no hope of reaching that goal. Meanwhile, the Chinese Navy — which isn’t stretched around the world — has 335 ships, a 55 percent increase in 15 years,
If the U.S. and the People’s Republic were to come to blows after some incident over some atoll in the South China Sea, are we confident we’d prevail?
When (fingers crossed) Joe Biden is president, he needn’t ask his cabinet members to deliver philippics against Beijing. But, as George Kennan once wrote about another regime, he must be prepared to confront China with “unalterable counter force at every point where they show signs of encroaching upon the interests of a peaceful and stable world.” “