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Sen. Tom Cotton: A Cold War with China, whether we seek one or not

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President Biden pleaded at the United Nation’s General Assembly last week that “we are not seeking a new Cold War.” Though too diffident even to speak the name “China,” one supposes that’s what he meant. 

Unfortunately, whether we seek it or not, Communist China has waged a Cold War against us for years. Our only choice is to win or lose. 

Last century, our Cold War with Soviet Russia was a decades-long struggle between two great powers for global economic, military, technological and ideological supremacy. Can there be any question that we’re engaged in such a confrontation with Communist China?

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From Djibouti to Italy, Malaysia to Iran, and Afghanistan to Sri Lanka, China seeks to corrupt and recast the international system in its rotten image. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is one of the most ambitious imperial power plays ever conceived. 

Through debt traps, bribery and monumental infrastructure projects, the Chinese Communist Party is trying to buy allies, expand its military power, and establish a global economic order dictated by Beijing. 

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China also is bludgeoning American allies like Australia, Japan and European Union members with punitive economic actions to dissuade them from criticizing China’s deplorable human-rights record and from cooperating with the United States more generally. 

Chinese apparatchiks attack the United States constantly in diplomatic sessions and international forums, often regurgitating BLM calumnies. From buying new friends to attacking ours, China strives to expand its influence and reduce ours. 

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Moreover, for 30 years the CCP has waged economic war against America through product dumping, intellectual-property theft and industrial sabotage. The “China shock” of the early 2000s cost our nation millions of manufacturing jobs and devastated industrial communities. 

Today, the CCP accounts for up to 80% of intellectual-property theft committed against the United States and more than 70% of counterfeit and pirated goods brought into our nation. China is also the subject of nearly half of all FBI counterintelligence cases for economic espionage. This economic warfare costs the United States hundreds of billions of dollars per year. 

And China’s rapid economic growth has funded one of the most aggressive military expansions in history. Since 2000, China has increased military spending by over 1,000%, it has more than tripled the size of its navy, and it has established the largest conventional ground-based missile arsenal in the world. More recently, China has exponentially increased its nuclear arsenal. This peacetime armament campaign may be in preparation for a major war, or it is an indicator of an escalating Cold War – or both. 

While the scope and nature of our rivalry with China may differ in some respects from our Cold War with Soviet Russia, the stakes are the same: freedom itself. 

Finally, China works obsessively to preserve and export its totalitarian system. At home, Xi Jinping has murdered, imprisoned and erased rivals and dissenters by the millions. He has also executed a campaign to silence any discussion of Western thought and values within the borders of China.

Abroad, he has aided and, in some cases, propped up brutal regimes such as North Korea, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, among others. This axis of rogue nations is clearly intended to form a counterweight to our Western and democratic alliances.  

While the scope and nature of our rivalry with China may differ in some respects from our Cold War with Soviet Russia, the stakes are the same: freedom itself. 

Skeptics and doves – and more than a few fellow travelers – doubted Bernard Baruch when he first used the phrase “Cold War” in 1947. To those doubters, Baruch replied, “Let us not be deceived; we are today in the midst of a Cold War. Our enemies are to be found abroad and at home.” 

Likewise, let us not be deceived today. Our nation cannot afford weak-willed leaders who ignore the great challenges of our time.  

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President Biden must change course, call China by its name, and forcefully confront China as the enemy it is. America did not wish for a new Cold War, but now our only choice is to win or submit to Chinese dominion. 

The future of America and the world is at stake.

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