The goal of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has remained the same since the days of its founder Mao Zedong in the 50s: for China to once again become the strongest, most powerful nation on earth. Or as current CCP supreme leader Xi Jinping puts it, China taking “center stage in the world.”
This objective of global supremacy is inherently zero sum, for like Highlander, there can be only one. Thus, the CCP must first dislodge the current occupant, the United States, from its leading position and realign the world order to reflect China’s preferences.
As I wrote in my book The Art of the New Cold War, to accomplish this end the CCP is following the doctrines of Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu as distilled in his famous military treatise the Art of War, which despite being around 2,500 years old remains highly influential in modern Chinese strategy.
One of Sun Tzu’s fundamental principles is that “the greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” Thus, while western generals often seek to bring about a single decisive battle, adherents of Sun Tzu, like the CCP, seek to achieve such a dominant strategic position that battle itself becomes unnecessary, as the outcome is already decided.
Following this advice, the CCP has for decades employed various forms of indirect warfare against the United States including political, psychological, cultural, subversive, legal, and economic, to compromise and degrade America’s strategic strength and position over time. While concurrently, the CCP has sought to enhance China’s own strategic power and position relative to the United States. So that eventually the power imbalance would be so vast and apparent, that China’s victory would merely be, as the French would say, a fait accompli.
Indeed, we can see this strategy in many of Xi Jinping’s signature policies.
For instance, Xi’s dual circulation strategy, which seeks for China to become economically self-sufficient, while in turn ensuring the rest of the world, including America, remains dependent upon China for manufacturing, supply chains, even future growth, and prosperity. Thereby giving the CCP enormous leverage, with the ability to reward and punish others as it desires, while removing undue foreign influence over itself.
Additionally, there is Xi’s Belt and Road initiative. A new “silk road” meant to bind much of the world through Chinese built infrastructure and debt trap diplomacy, in an “all roads lead to China” strategy. This has already allowed China to lay claim to strategic ports, land, and natural resources in places like Africa.
Then there is Xi’s military-civil fusion strategy whereby Chinese companies are forced to assist China’s military and defense capabilities through the acquisition and integration of dual-use technologies, those with both commercial and military application, such as artificial intelligence, to give China the most technologically superior military, and leapfrog the United States.
Finally, there is Xi’s Made in China 2025 initiative, a massive state driven industrial policy aimed squarely at China winning the world’s most consequential technologies, those that will decide future global power, such as advanced manufacturing, robotics, and quantum computing.
These policies, and others like them, are meant to place China in a strategically dominant position from an economic, military, and technological standpoint, so that per Sun Tzu, America eventually capitulates and accepts China’s rise, and thus its own decline, as a historical inevitability that must simply be accommodated. For example, by ceding Asia, including Taiwan, to China as the hemispheric hegemon.
It’s imperative then that America understands and combats this CCP strategy and whole of nation approach to warfare. If we do not, we may awake one day soon to find we have lost, and the war over without the firing of a single shot.
Perhaps, it’s time to brush up on our Sun Tzu.
Lee Steinhauer is a political consultant and author of The Art of The New Cold War: America vs. China. What America Must Do to Win.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.