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Strengthen Asia to Weaken Beijing
Members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) review the oath of joining the party in front of the party flag on April 13, 2021 in Luoyang, Henan Province of China. (Photo by Jia Fangwen/VCG via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jia Fangwen/VCG via Getty Images)

Strengthen Asia to Weaken Beijing

Walter Russell Mead

The American debate over China policy is heating up. Last month, Foreign Affairs published an article by Charles Glaser calling on the U.S. to retreat from East Asian commitments as American power declines. In prominent publications ranging from the National Interest to the Atlantic, analysts argue that the U.S. should moderate its China policy for the opposite reason: Beijing is a paper tiger and doesn’t deserve this attention. Further out in the liberal mists, some blame hotheaded China hawks for violence against Asian-Americans and want a softer American China policy as a way of building community at home.

The pushback is understandable—the American discussion has moved very far, very fast. Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass has urged Washington to make a formal commitment to defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack, while George Soros has termed Xi Jinping the most dangerous enemy that open societies face. And Secretary of State Antony Blinken repeated his predecessor Mike Pompeo’s characterization of Beijing’s treatment of Chinese Uighurs as a “genocide.”

The doves are right that something as consequential as U.S.-China policy should be thoroughly debated. They are right, too, that unless that policy stands on a realistic assessment of the costs and consequences, America could find itself committed to policies that voters at home and allies abroad might be unwilling to support when the going gets tough.

Read in the Wall Street Journal

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