The bipartisan report, which was commissioned by Democratic committee Chairman Adam Schiff in May of 2019, claimed that "for the first time in three decades the United States is confronted by the rise of a global competitor", admitting that US intelligence services have "not sufficiently adapted" to address the challenge posed by China.
"Absent a significant realignment of resources, the US government and intelligence community will fail to achieve the outcomes required to enable continued US competition with China on the global stage for decades to come, and to protect the US health and security", the 37-page summary warns.
Dems Stepping Up Anti-China Rhetoric
The report's summary calling for improved US spying capabilities against the People's Republic was published less than five weeks before the November election and coincided with growing anti-China sentiment in the US over the coronavirus pandemic and trade frictions.
"Our nation's intelligence agencies have a lot of work to do to fully address the challenge posed by China", Adam Schiff stated last week while presenting the report.
Although the Democratic Party and its presidential nominee Joe Biden have recently stepped up their anti-China rhetoric, Thomas Weir Pauken II, a Beijing-based US commentator specialising in Asia-Pacific Affairs and author of US vs. China: From Trade War to Reciprocal Deal, does not buy into it.
"Biden was never anti-China until recently, while the Democrat Party has received generous donations and support from Chinese-American voters in California, New York and Illinois", says Pauken. "Adam Schiff hails from a Congressional District in California with a large influx of Asian-American voters. The Obama administration when Biden was vice president didn’t confront Beijing over unfair US-China bilateral trade deals".
The release of the intelligence report, which, though being bipartisan, is spearheaded by the Democrats, may be yet another PR stunt aimed at convincing American voters that Biden will rein China in, according to the commentator.
"Democrats are panicking and they see the value in the 'Blame China' strategy to win over voters, but they will fail because only a naive Democrat voter could believe that Biden and the Democrats would be tougher on China than the Trump administration", he says.
The Chinese 'Wolf Warriors' May Call Biden's Bluff
While the intelligence report expects "China’s use of digital authoritarianism to continue to be exported beyond its own borders" and claims that Beijing is seeking to replace the US as the global leader, purportedly believing "that China’s model and system of governance are exceptional", Pauken deems that this sort of rhetoric may backfire on the Biden administration if the Democratic nominee comes out on top in November.
"The Democrats are playing with fire and the Chinese government will be more prepared to confront Washington over such actions", he suggests. "Chinese diplomats have been dubbed 'wolf warriors' and they won’t roll over if Biden attempts to push back against them. What exactly can Democrats do other than issue meaningless bluffs that Beijing would ignore? The Chinese government if necessary could move forward on US-China de-coupling and that would harm Silicon Valley and Wall Street, as wealthy Democrat Party donors would take a hit in their pocketbooks".
On the other hand, a future Biden administration's apparent attempt to rally the European Union, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, and India to isolate Beijing diplomatically may prove futile, since "European companies hold lucrative business deals with the Chinese and they would fear Chinese companies backing away from them", the author notes.
"The bigger concern many Chinese have would be that if Biden wins the US elections, he would raise taxes and he might destroy the US economy inflicting a weaker outlook for Chinese exports directed at the US markets", he remarks.
If Trump is Elected, US-China Ties May Improve
Sino-American relations may improve starting next year if Trump gets re-elected, despite the president's current tough rhetoric towards China with regard to bilateral trade issues, the Chinese high-tech sector, the South China Sea, and the coronavirus, according to the Beijing-based commentator.
"President Trump, should he win a second term in office, will focus on US economic rebound efforts and play down the impact of the coronavirus spreading in the country", Pauken expects. "For the US to attract more foreign direct investments, create more manufacturing jobs in the country and to spur higher GDP (gross domestic product) growth rates, they should soften their tone towards China and welcome more Chinese businesses to invest in the US, open factories that would create more jobs for Americans and to jump ahead on US-China economic cooperation".
At the same time, the author, who has been living in the People's Republic for over 10 years, laments the fact that Washington and many officials on both sides of the American political spectrum "have a low understanding of China". Apparently, therefore, they do not recognise the complex matters involved in the South China Sea, he notes, warning that their attempts to act like arbitrators of territorial disputes in the region will spark deeper conflicts in the Asia-Pacific.
"The US diving into the South China Sea disputes will not resolve anything", he insists. "It’s better for Washington to step back and let China and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member states seek resolutions on their own terms without meddling from Western countries".
Nevertheless, Beijing and Washington can find common ground and reach a compromise, according to the commentator. Therefore, if Trump pursues a trade deal with China, one can anticipate Beijing to offer major concessions on hi-tech issues. Meanwhile, Washington can be expected to return the favour by granting more opportunities for Chinese hi-tech firms to invest in the US and do more business deals in the country.
"There’s a good chance Trump will accept the Belt and Road Initiative and allow the US to become a BRI member if Beijing signs on to a winning US-China trade agreement", Pauken concludes.