The Trump administration’s latest policy statement on China disappoints on prescription, but is a mostly thoughtful step forward on problem diagnosis. It’s also slightly baffling. Authored by the State Department’s Policy Planning staff, “The Elements of the China Challenge” surfaced two weeks after President Donald Trump’s failed bid for re-election.
Despite concerns about a still more hawkish turn intended to constrain the incoming Biden administration, this paper strikes a less uniformly disparaging tone on China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) than previous Trump administration policy statements have done. Bureaucratically, that may seem unsurprising as a State Department rather than White House work product. Then again, this is Mike Pompeo’s State Department, which preserves little daylight between the secretary and the president.