.
A

ccording to reports, President Joe Biden may convene the first-ever quadrilateral U.S. summit with leaders from Australia, India, and Japan as part of the administration’s push to counter China. The summit would revive the quadrilateral relationship—known in policy circles as “the Quad”—that emerged after the 2007 Indonesia tsunami. It had lain dormant out of fears from Delhi and Canberra about antagonizing Beijing. However, with India and China fighting across the border at Ladakh, and Australia’s growing concern about China’s expansionist foreign policy, both countries are reconsidering the value of such a partnership with Washington and Tokyo.

While this is unlikely to yield a formal military alliance, the Quad’s growing importance is indicative of just how much the ground has shifted in the last four years as it relates to the global view of China, but especially within the United States. While much ink was spilled on various “pivots” to Asia to confront China, for all intents and purposes not much in the realm of policy changed.

Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the 21st Century | Josh Rogin | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | March 2021.

Judging by the campaign trail rhetoric, one would have expected President Donald J. Trump to radically change America’s orientation toward China. But how much changed under President Trump and what was Washington’s relationship with Beijing in his administration? Mr. Josh Rogin, a columnist and reporter for the Washington Post, seeks to answer this question and more in his outstanding new book, Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the 21st Century.

That Mr. Rogin manages to capture the complexity and multi-faceted nature of the China challenge is a testament to his writing and reporting. This is a must-read book and, candidly, one that I have been looking for, for some time. I’ve read and reviewed several books on China over the last year, all of which have contributed in their own right to the debate—whether it is about the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to control and stifle debate, or influence key elites, or about the impact of the One Belt, One Road Initiative on the ground. But few, if any, have managed to capture the totality of the challenge facing the United States from an inside-out perspective as well as Mr. Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven. If there is one book on the challenge with China that those both inside and outside the Beltway should read, it is Chaos Under Heaven.

This book is much more than an account of the turmoil of the Trump administration, though that is certainly a central organizing feature. It is also much more than the conflicts of interest that many within the administration and indeed Congress have when it comes to Beijing, resulting from sins of omission and commission. It’s also about the bureaucrats on the ground in the federal agencies working diligently, and behind the scenes, to push back on China’s influence and ensure America’s competitiveness. With a new administration in the White House and a new Congress, this book should be at the top of every legislators’ to-be-read list.

Chaos in the White House

Strangely, parts of the Trump administration may have had the seeds of the right approach on China at a very macro-level, but neither the staff, the cohesion, nor the focus to achieve what was necessary. To its credit, some within the administration rightly saw China as a strategic challenge and competitor to the United States and correctly diagnosed the imbalance in the trade and diplomatic relationship from the start. “America First”, while trite and oversimplified, could have started the necessary rebalancing. Some eschewed the long-held belief that by engaging with China, America would be able to make Beijing look more like Washington—liberal, democratic, open, and rule-abiding.

Successive administrations since Nixon have thought that engagement would lead to liberalization—a false promise of turn-of-the-millennium Sino-American relations. If only China entered the WTO, it would be more economically liberal and American businesses would be more competitive in China. If “the West” played by the rules, so too would the “Middle Kingdom”. Unfortunately, these visions in Washington were not the plans drafted in Beijing. Profits flowed; principles not so much.

In pivoting away from accommodation to confrontation, the problems for the Trump administration were, as Mr. Rogin masterfully illustrates, the idiosyncrasies of the administration and the tribalism of its personnel ensured failure from the beginning, despite that it could have started from the right premise. The problem was not that the Trump administration did not have a strategy. It is that it had too many strategies pursued by too many groups who worked more often than not at cross-purposes, and without the president’s buy-in or commitment to a specific effort. Even when the president did buy-in to a strategy, he almost as quickly reversed course or undermined its rollout via Twitter.

President Trump’s belief in personal relationships as a prelude to successful negotiations ensured that Xi would, and did, call on the president for personal favors. The in-fighting and absence of administrative cohesion ensured that different camps within the White House and across the government spent more time fighting amongst themselves and with each other than pushing back against the Chinese Communist Party. The rollout of a strategy to combat China was almost immediately condemned by the talking heads who ran to Fox News to demonstrate fealty to President Trump and lobby for a job. A land of misfit toys, indeed.

This is to say nothing of the ongoing tension between the president’s desire for a trade agreement and the reality that China presented not only a trade challenge but a fundamental economic and national security threat. National security challenges embodied by Huawei, ZTE, and others were merely tools to get to a trade agreement, chips meant to be bartered away. While national security and intelligence figures worked diligently to convince those in Congress and America’s international partners that this was not a trade issue or merely economic protectionism, their efforts were undermined by the president’s tweets and behavior.

Moreover, Beijing never had any intention of playing by the rules or agreeing to a more equitable trade relationship. President Xi would simply ask President Trump for a personal favor, pull on the various levers available to the Chinese Communist Party, or simply bide his time and do what Beijing wanted to do in the first place. The reality is that no amount of effort, persuasion, or pressure will change China’s regime or unseat the Chinese Communist Party. That cannot and should not be an objective. A real and honest appraisal of America’s geopolitical and geostrategic interests is needed first, and then a strategy that aligns ends, ways, and means must be crafted to achieve said interests. Beijing had a strategy and was pursuing it; Washington, at best, has feuding cats with no one to herd them into place.

Disarming the Antibodies of Western Democracy

Perhaps even more damning is the fact that so much of the administration, and indeed Congress, is tarnished by association with the Chinese Communist Party or Chinese Communist Party-affiliated individuals and business interests. As Mr. Rogin describes, there are innumerable cases of senior officials in government who have connections that would certainly call into question their impartiality on China-related issues. How can an administration official or adviser, or member of Congress, or the congressional staff expect to be unbiased if he or she has a financial stake in smooth relations with Beijing? Divestiture is by no means a panacea to ensuring that one’s behavior is in the national interest alone.

Mr. Rogin vividly illustrates the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party has worked to co-opt international institutions through both overt and covert means. The United Work Front Program and its ecosystem of associated groups work to persuade, cajole, and outright bully individuals and organizations to toe the Chinese Communist Party line. No element of American society is left untargeted. From congressional staffers on CCP-sponsored trips to China who receive the red carpet to funding for China-studies programs at universities, and ground-level harassment—nothing is off-limits for the CCP.

In one notable case of the latter, a Uyghur activist campaigning outside of D.C.’s Capital One Arena was harassed by an individual in a tracksuit who said “your mother is dead”—the activist’s mother was in one of the CCP-run concentration camps. This was not some “random” harassment effort. Cases like the NBA or Hollywood self-censorship get the most attention, but China’s pursuit of critics can border on the truly dystopian. In one case a minimum-wage Marriott hotel worker liked a tweet in support of Hong Kong’s protests. He was fired by the hotel chain, which issued a groveling apology when it appeared that their business in the mainland could be threatened.

The diversity of these propaganda and influence campaigns demonstrates just how broad the attack surface of the United States is, and just how vulnerable America is to this type of influence campaign. Every university, every business, every state and local official, is a potential point of entry making the federal government’s job that much more difficult. China’s Thousand Talents Program and its penetration of academia is one such example. How many academics are receiving funding from the Chinese Communist Party (knowingly or unknowingly) and helping advance the Party’s aims and the interests of its military?

Confronting this challenge demands closer cooperation, support, and understanding between the federal government and institutions that, hitherto, have not had the best of relations. Getting universities on the same page as the FBI was never going to be an easy task, but one made all the more difficult with the venom and vitriol spilling forth from the White House.

A Whole-of Society Challenge

There is very little ground that Mr. Rogin does not cover in this volume, save perhaps a deep dive into the military elements of this competition. Ironically, perhaps, this is the simplest element of the U.S.-China competition. Compared with Beijing’s complex manipulation of America’s financial markets to raise and launder capital, developing counter strategies and adjusting the operational doctrine of the Marine Corps is straightforward. How can national security and law enforcement officials fight against the infusion of Chinese capital that circumvents the rules via “reverse mergers” or listing on dodgy markets when the incentives for Wall Street to facilitate those activities are so high?

So many elements of American society are willingly or naively aiding in China’s rise and expansion. Whether borne out of outright greed or simple ignorance, the end is the same and just as damaging to America’s economic and national security future. Never so willingly has the society of a global power aided and abetted its existential challenger.

The challenge of confronting China in this new era of great power competition is challenging enough, but even more so with the absolute chaos of the Trump White House, its internecine warfare, and glaring conflicts of interest. China’s rise is a generational challenge, and our democratic republic is structured in two- and four-year time horizons with a panoply of interests with too much skin in the status quo game. America’s narrow and shortsighted politics is ill-suited to confronting this challenge—a challenge masterfully captured by Mr. Rogin.

Mr. Rogin’s final chapter on the Covid outbreak is worthy of a book in and of itself, and I very much hope he follows up Chaos Under Heaven with a book exploring China’s concealment of the facts surrounding Covid, cooptation of international institutions such as the World Health Organization, and Beijing’s attempts to spread misinformation and disinformation surrounding the virus, its cause, and China’s response.

A New Administration

One does not leave Chaos Under Heaven with hope for the future. There are very few bright spots and none at the cabinet-level. Matt Pottinger and the Bingo Club—a group of individuals meeting off of Capitol Hill to share their views on the China challenge and possible responses—do standout. The real heroes of this story are the ground-level or mid-tier officials in the Intelligence Community, law enforcement, and agencies and departments attempting to martial a concerted response to the China challenge, amidst a cacophony of competing signals from the White House and a largely indifferent Congress.

While it is certainly too early to tell, one wonders whether the Biden administration will be better able to grasp the China nettle. The cabinet officials appointed thus far and the signals from the administration may suggest a return to the Obama years, which does not inspire much confidence. The much-vaunted “pivot to Asia” during Obama’s presidency never materialized and was certainly never resourced accordingly. The administration’s belief in international norms of behavior and international law counted for little when Beijing simply made the right noises but did what it wanted to do in the end.

Obama’s failure to push back against China’s literal expansionist foreign policy in the South China Sea merely emboldened Beijing further. While a Biden administration may invest more in multilateralism, reengage in international institutions, and return to a “normal” state of affairs, this would be a woefully inadequate response to the challenge so astutely described by Mr. Rogin.

While it is true that the proverbial cat is out of the bag and it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the Biden administration to sweep differences under the rug as the Obama administration did in the name of stability, shifting to a whole-of-society and whole-of-government approach to the challenge from Beijing requires a near herculean level of effort.

A New Cold War?

In his conclusion, Mr. Rogin writes “Is the United States in a cold war with China? That’s the wrong question, because it doesn’t provide a useful answer. The historical analogy is too imperfect.” The intellectual framework and surrounding debate matter less than the actual implementation of policy on the ground and coordination of national- and society-level activities.

At a fundamental level, the White House needs to articulate what the challenge from China is and how the United States will confront Beijing. This is not just an ideological struggle between liberal democracy and autocracy but rather a competition at every level of society. Competition does not mean conflict but to naively assume the tools and policies of the past or behaviors and strategies of previous administrations will suffice is to set America up for failure.

“Part of what the CCP has done is to disable the antibodies in healthy democracies, through a mix of capturing elites and creating dependencies in all of the institutions that make up the infrastructure of Western democracies, through intelligence and influence efforts of all kinds,” writes Mr. Rogin, and that is a spot-on assessment. Washington needs to reinvigorate those antibodies and strengthen the immune system.

This is the truly hardest of hard problems and demands an honest appraisal of where we are vis-à-vis China, who has interests where and what conflicts of interest, and what our desired end-state or structural conditions are in the end.

Chaos Under Heaven is meant to spark a debate and I very much hope that it does. If Washington is to confront the challenge from Beijing it must do so with open eyes and a candid assessment of the gravity of the situation. The Chinese Communist Party, as masterfully explained by Mr. Rogin, is a whole-of-government and whole-of-society challenge. It is not a political challenge alone, nor is it an economic or trade challenge in isolation. For too long Washington has sought to make policy toward China in silos, whereas Beijing is using every tool of national power to ensure that its interests are protected and advanced, and dissent is silenced. Crafting a smart strategy towards China demands an understanding and an appreciation of the total challenge Beijing represents, and an acceptance of China as it is, not as we wish it to be. Mr. Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven is the best single volume on the totality of China’s reach and influence, and our muddled policy over the last four years.

About
Joshua Huminski
:
Joshua C. Huminski is Director of the Mike Rogers Center for Intelligence & Global Affairs at the Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress. He can be found on Twitter @joshuachuminski.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

a global affairs media network

www.diplomaticourier.com

Book Review: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the 21st Century

March 13, 2021

Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the 21st Century | Josh Rogin | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | March 2021.

A

ccording to reports, President Joe Biden may convene the first-ever quadrilateral U.S. summit with leaders from Australia, India, and Japan as part of the administration’s push to counter China. The summit would revive the quadrilateral relationship—known in policy circles as “the Quad”—that emerged after the 2007 Indonesia tsunami. It had lain dormant out of fears from Delhi and Canberra about antagonizing Beijing. However, with India and China fighting across the border at Ladakh, and Australia’s growing concern about China’s expansionist foreign policy, both countries are reconsidering the value of such a partnership with Washington and Tokyo.

While this is unlikely to yield a formal military alliance, the Quad’s growing importance is indicative of just how much the ground has shifted in the last four years as it relates to the global view of China, but especially within the United States. While much ink was spilled on various “pivots” to Asia to confront China, for all intents and purposes not much in the realm of policy changed.

Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the 21st Century | Josh Rogin | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | March 2021.

Judging by the campaign trail rhetoric, one would have expected President Donald J. Trump to radically change America’s orientation toward China. But how much changed under President Trump and what was Washington’s relationship with Beijing in his administration? Mr. Josh Rogin, a columnist and reporter for the Washington Post, seeks to answer this question and more in his outstanding new book, Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the 21st Century.

That Mr. Rogin manages to capture the complexity and multi-faceted nature of the China challenge is a testament to his writing and reporting. This is a must-read book and, candidly, one that I have been looking for, for some time. I’ve read and reviewed several books on China over the last year, all of which have contributed in their own right to the debate—whether it is about the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to control and stifle debate, or influence key elites, or about the impact of the One Belt, One Road Initiative on the ground. But few, if any, have managed to capture the totality of the challenge facing the United States from an inside-out perspective as well as Mr. Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven. If there is one book on the challenge with China that those both inside and outside the Beltway should read, it is Chaos Under Heaven.

This book is much more than an account of the turmoil of the Trump administration, though that is certainly a central organizing feature. It is also much more than the conflicts of interest that many within the administration and indeed Congress have when it comes to Beijing, resulting from sins of omission and commission. It’s also about the bureaucrats on the ground in the federal agencies working diligently, and behind the scenes, to push back on China’s influence and ensure America’s competitiveness. With a new administration in the White House and a new Congress, this book should be at the top of every legislators’ to-be-read list.

Chaos in the White House

Strangely, parts of the Trump administration may have had the seeds of the right approach on China at a very macro-level, but neither the staff, the cohesion, nor the focus to achieve what was necessary. To its credit, some within the administration rightly saw China as a strategic challenge and competitor to the United States and correctly diagnosed the imbalance in the trade and diplomatic relationship from the start. “America First”, while trite and oversimplified, could have started the necessary rebalancing. Some eschewed the long-held belief that by engaging with China, America would be able to make Beijing look more like Washington—liberal, democratic, open, and rule-abiding.

Successive administrations since Nixon have thought that engagement would lead to liberalization—a false promise of turn-of-the-millennium Sino-American relations. If only China entered the WTO, it would be more economically liberal and American businesses would be more competitive in China. If “the West” played by the rules, so too would the “Middle Kingdom”. Unfortunately, these visions in Washington were not the plans drafted in Beijing. Profits flowed; principles not so much.

In pivoting away from accommodation to confrontation, the problems for the Trump administration were, as Mr. Rogin masterfully illustrates, the idiosyncrasies of the administration and the tribalism of its personnel ensured failure from the beginning, despite that it could have started from the right premise. The problem was not that the Trump administration did not have a strategy. It is that it had too many strategies pursued by too many groups who worked more often than not at cross-purposes, and without the president’s buy-in or commitment to a specific effort. Even when the president did buy-in to a strategy, he almost as quickly reversed course or undermined its rollout via Twitter.

President Trump’s belief in personal relationships as a prelude to successful negotiations ensured that Xi would, and did, call on the president for personal favors. The in-fighting and absence of administrative cohesion ensured that different camps within the White House and across the government spent more time fighting amongst themselves and with each other than pushing back against the Chinese Communist Party. The rollout of a strategy to combat China was almost immediately condemned by the talking heads who ran to Fox News to demonstrate fealty to President Trump and lobby for a job. A land of misfit toys, indeed.

This is to say nothing of the ongoing tension between the president’s desire for a trade agreement and the reality that China presented not only a trade challenge but a fundamental economic and national security threat. National security challenges embodied by Huawei, ZTE, and others were merely tools to get to a trade agreement, chips meant to be bartered away. While national security and intelligence figures worked diligently to convince those in Congress and America’s international partners that this was not a trade issue or merely economic protectionism, their efforts were undermined by the president’s tweets and behavior.

Moreover, Beijing never had any intention of playing by the rules or agreeing to a more equitable trade relationship. President Xi would simply ask President Trump for a personal favor, pull on the various levers available to the Chinese Communist Party, or simply bide his time and do what Beijing wanted to do in the first place. The reality is that no amount of effort, persuasion, or pressure will change China’s regime or unseat the Chinese Communist Party. That cannot and should not be an objective. A real and honest appraisal of America’s geopolitical and geostrategic interests is needed first, and then a strategy that aligns ends, ways, and means must be crafted to achieve said interests. Beijing had a strategy and was pursuing it; Washington, at best, has feuding cats with no one to herd them into place.

Disarming the Antibodies of Western Democracy

Perhaps even more damning is the fact that so much of the administration, and indeed Congress, is tarnished by association with the Chinese Communist Party or Chinese Communist Party-affiliated individuals and business interests. As Mr. Rogin describes, there are innumerable cases of senior officials in government who have connections that would certainly call into question their impartiality on China-related issues. How can an administration official or adviser, or member of Congress, or the congressional staff expect to be unbiased if he or she has a financial stake in smooth relations with Beijing? Divestiture is by no means a panacea to ensuring that one’s behavior is in the national interest alone.

Mr. Rogin vividly illustrates the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party has worked to co-opt international institutions through both overt and covert means. The United Work Front Program and its ecosystem of associated groups work to persuade, cajole, and outright bully individuals and organizations to toe the Chinese Communist Party line. No element of American society is left untargeted. From congressional staffers on CCP-sponsored trips to China who receive the red carpet to funding for China-studies programs at universities, and ground-level harassment—nothing is off-limits for the CCP.

In one notable case of the latter, a Uyghur activist campaigning outside of D.C.’s Capital One Arena was harassed by an individual in a tracksuit who said “your mother is dead”—the activist’s mother was in one of the CCP-run concentration camps. This was not some “random” harassment effort. Cases like the NBA or Hollywood self-censorship get the most attention, but China’s pursuit of critics can border on the truly dystopian. In one case a minimum-wage Marriott hotel worker liked a tweet in support of Hong Kong’s protests. He was fired by the hotel chain, which issued a groveling apology when it appeared that their business in the mainland could be threatened.

The diversity of these propaganda and influence campaigns demonstrates just how broad the attack surface of the United States is, and just how vulnerable America is to this type of influence campaign. Every university, every business, every state and local official, is a potential point of entry making the federal government’s job that much more difficult. China’s Thousand Talents Program and its penetration of academia is one such example. How many academics are receiving funding from the Chinese Communist Party (knowingly or unknowingly) and helping advance the Party’s aims and the interests of its military?

Confronting this challenge demands closer cooperation, support, and understanding between the federal government and institutions that, hitherto, have not had the best of relations. Getting universities on the same page as the FBI was never going to be an easy task, but one made all the more difficult with the venom and vitriol spilling forth from the White House.

A Whole-of Society Challenge

There is very little ground that Mr. Rogin does not cover in this volume, save perhaps a deep dive into the military elements of this competition. Ironically, perhaps, this is the simplest element of the U.S.-China competition. Compared with Beijing’s complex manipulation of America’s financial markets to raise and launder capital, developing counter strategies and adjusting the operational doctrine of the Marine Corps is straightforward. How can national security and law enforcement officials fight against the infusion of Chinese capital that circumvents the rules via “reverse mergers” or listing on dodgy markets when the incentives for Wall Street to facilitate those activities are so high?

So many elements of American society are willingly or naively aiding in China’s rise and expansion. Whether borne out of outright greed or simple ignorance, the end is the same and just as damaging to America’s economic and national security future. Never so willingly has the society of a global power aided and abetted its existential challenger.

The challenge of confronting China in this new era of great power competition is challenging enough, but even more so with the absolute chaos of the Trump White House, its internecine warfare, and glaring conflicts of interest. China’s rise is a generational challenge, and our democratic republic is structured in two- and four-year time horizons with a panoply of interests with too much skin in the status quo game. America’s narrow and shortsighted politics is ill-suited to confronting this challenge—a challenge masterfully captured by Mr. Rogin.

Mr. Rogin’s final chapter on the Covid outbreak is worthy of a book in and of itself, and I very much hope he follows up Chaos Under Heaven with a book exploring China’s concealment of the facts surrounding Covid, cooptation of international institutions such as the World Health Organization, and Beijing’s attempts to spread misinformation and disinformation surrounding the virus, its cause, and China’s response.

A New Administration

One does not leave Chaos Under Heaven with hope for the future. There are very few bright spots and none at the cabinet-level. Matt Pottinger and the Bingo Club—a group of individuals meeting off of Capitol Hill to share their views on the China challenge and possible responses—do standout. The real heroes of this story are the ground-level or mid-tier officials in the Intelligence Community, law enforcement, and agencies and departments attempting to martial a concerted response to the China challenge, amidst a cacophony of competing signals from the White House and a largely indifferent Congress.

While it is certainly too early to tell, one wonders whether the Biden administration will be better able to grasp the China nettle. The cabinet officials appointed thus far and the signals from the administration may suggest a return to the Obama years, which does not inspire much confidence. The much-vaunted “pivot to Asia” during Obama’s presidency never materialized and was certainly never resourced accordingly. The administration’s belief in international norms of behavior and international law counted for little when Beijing simply made the right noises but did what it wanted to do in the end.

Obama’s failure to push back against China’s literal expansionist foreign policy in the South China Sea merely emboldened Beijing further. While a Biden administration may invest more in multilateralism, reengage in international institutions, and return to a “normal” state of affairs, this would be a woefully inadequate response to the challenge so astutely described by Mr. Rogin.

While it is true that the proverbial cat is out of the bag and it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the Biden administration to sweep differences under the rug as the Obama administration did in the name of stability, shifting to a whole-of-society and whole-of-government approach to the challenge from Beijing requires a near herculean level of effort.

A New Cold War?

In his conclusion, Mr. Rogin writes “Is the United States in a cold war with China? That’s the wrong question, because it doesn’t provide a useful answer. The historical analogy is too imperfect.” The intellectual framework and surrounding debate matter less than the actual implementation of policy on the ground and coordination of national- and society-level activities.

At a fundamental level, the White House needs to articulate what the challenge from China is and how the United States will confront Beijing. This is not just an ideological struggle between liberal democracy and autocracy but rather a competition at every level of society. Competition does not mean conflict but to naively assume the tools and policies of the past or behaviors and strategies of previous administrations will suffice is to set America up for failure.

“Part of what the CCP has done is to disable the antibodies in healthy democracies, through a mix of capturing elites and creating dependencies in all of the institutions that make up the infrastructure of Western democracies, through intelligence and influence efforts of all kinds,” writes Mr. Rogin, and that is a spot-on assessment. Washington needs to reinvigorate those antibodies and strengthen the immune system.

This is the truly hardest of hard problems and demands an honest appraisal of where we are vis-à-vis China, who has interests where and what conflicts of interest, and what our desired end-state or structural conditions are in the end.

Chaos Under Heaven is meant to spark a debate and I very much hope that it does. If Washington is to confront the challenge from Beijing it must do so with open eyes and a candid assessment of the gravity of the situation. The Chinese Communist Party, as masterfully explained by Mr. Rogin, is a whole-of-government and whole-of-society challenge. It is not a political challenge alone, nor is it an economic or trade challenge in isolation. For too long Washington has sought to make policy toward China in silos, whereas Beijing is using every tool of national power to ensure that its interests are protected and advanced, and dissent is silenced. Crafting a smart strategy towards China demands an understanding and an appreciation of the total challenge Beijing represents, and an acceptance of China as it is, not as we wish it to be. Mr. Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven is the best single volume on the totality of China’s reach and influence, and our muddled policy over the last four years.

About
Joshua Huminski
:
Joshua C. Huminski is Director of the Mike Rogers Center for Intelligence & Global Affairs at the Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress. He can be found on Twitter @joshuachuminski.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.