Special Forum Issue

“Chinese Vigorous Parrying of Foreign Thrusts: 2017-2020”

China’s Strategic Thinking toward the US Role in the Indo-Pacific, 2017-2020


No administration has been more consequential or definitive than the Trump administration in altering the course of US-China relations since the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and China in 1979. Looking back, the Chinese became convinced that President Trump single-handedly reversed the engagement policy pursued by the previous six presidents and intentionally redirected the focus of US national security strategy from the war on terror to great power competition with China. This has brought China to an unfamiliar territory of intense competition and the potential for conflict with the United States as the predominant power in the region. Whereas many in the United States and allied countries consider China to have behaved in a manner to reverse engagement, China’s narrative turned this view on its head.

During this period, China’s attitude toward the Indo-Pacific as a geographic construct increasingly employed by the United States is at best mixed. On the one hand, the Chinese were greatly alarmed1 by this new geopolitical definition in China’s periphery and especially US efforts to improve relations with India in order to draw Delhi closer. On the other hand, the Chinese were also intrinsically skeptical2 of the effectiveness of such a broad definition, especially given the tremendous differences among the members of regional security architectures such as the QUAD. The combination of these two perspectives formed the foundation of China’s general approach toward the Indo-Pacific region. China saw US attempts to lead the region in an anti-China coalition as a fundamental threat to China’s national security as well as its desired leadership role in the region.3 At the same time, the differences embedded in the diverse membership also suggested abundant opportunities to exploit in terms of driving wedges and dividing the coalition.

The key question that emerged from China’s experience with the Trump administration is a fundamental one: what is the basic framework of China’s relationship with the United States moving forward and what should be the guiding principles? While China had previously assumed that China’s peaceful rise could be, with effort, accepted by the United States, the Trump administration clearly and permanently removed any such illusion.4 However, beyond engagement, China is unwilling to settle for competition as the basic framework of bilateral relations.5 The events during the last year of the Trump administration, vividly characterized as the “free fall” of US-China relations,6 reinforced the Chinese conviction of the undesirability7 of a conflict with the US, but that does not mean willingness to yield on China’s paramount priorities.

China’s Pre-Trump Illusion

Although most of the Chinese policy community had not taken Trump seriously as a candidate during the 2016 presidential election campaign, when Trump was announced as the winner on November 8, the Chinese found it to be a pleasant surprise.8 First and foremost, China taunted Trump as a mockery of the democratic system bordering on absurdity,9 claiming that if Trump was the best that the US democratic election could produce, then perhaps Chinese authoritarianism based on meritocracy was not such a bad option after all.10 As Xi worked to build up and strengthens the legitimacy of Chinese-style “democracy”11 and the popularity of the Chinese Communist Party, Trump, with all his personal scandals and provocative style, was portrayed as an example of the weaknesses of the US political system,12 which, in turn, demonstrated the superiority of the Chinese system.

Second, Influential Chinese found the election of Trump to be a pleasant surprise because they believed that Trump, being a businessman, would be more transactional13 than American presidents with whom China had dealt. Trump’s love of “deals” opened tremendous opportunities to bargain with him, which in their view should have made the relationship better rather than worse. Transactionality equates to China’s ability to leverage its positions to negotiate for better outcomes for itself. What they did not anticipate was Trump’s habitual strategy to suppress his counterpart’s negotiating position and push them into a corner. They also did not expect Trump to fail to honor what they understood to be his offers once he got his way, such as his transactional approach to progress on the North Korea issue and trade deals for China.14

The third Chinese speculation about how a Trump presidency would work in China’s favor was in considering US allies and partners. Because of Trump’s vow to put “America first” and “make America great again,” the Chinese sensed the skepticism of US allies very early on.15 This was not entirely wrong, as the Chinese believe that Trump temporarily but fundamentally shook Japanese,16 Korean,17 and European18 confidence in the alliances with the United States and its security commitments. For example, without the Trump presidency the Chinese do not believe that Japanese Prime Minister Abe would have joined China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) under the framework of “China-Japan cooperation on third countries” ( 中日第三方合作).19

What the initial optimism over Sino-US relations under Trump manifested was a critical inability to conceive of relations going beyond the range defined by perceived mutual complementarity despite the competition. When they did under Trump, the tectonic shift in the fundamental definitions and directions of bilateral relations posed China with the biggest challenge in its external relations since the beginning of the reform and opening up in 1979.

Trump, Indo-Pacific Strategy, and China’s Readout

Trump first proposed his Indo-Pacific Strategy during his trip to the region in November 2017. Although it drew some attention in China, most would rather have believed that the timing and the hasty introduction of the strategy was more about Trump differentiating his regional strategy from that of the Obama administration’s rebalancing to Asia strategy than anything else. The fact that Trump also visited Beijing during the same trip and was welcomed by President Xi was particularly reassuring for China that Trump “was looking for a deal instead of a fight.”20

In the Indo-Pacific Strategy paper, released by the Department of State in November 2019, the United States declared that it “is and always will be an Indo-Pacific nation.” The paper also identified “unprecedented challenges” Indo-Pacific nations were facing in terms of their “sovereignty, prosperity and peace,” with little to disguise the belief that such challenges originate from China. The identification of China as the origin was made abundantly clear when the paper referred to the 2017 US National Security Strategy, which the paper states “recognizes that the most consequential challenge to U.S. and partner interests is the growing competition between free and repressive visions of the future international order” and that “authoritarian revisionist powers seek to advance their parochial interests at others’ expense.”21

The Chinese takeaways from these statements were multilayered. First, the United States once and for all had defined itself as an intrinsic, embedded actor in the Indo-Pacific region. This was significantly different from the previous framing of United States’ primary theater in the region as the “Asia Pacific.” Some have argued that the Indo-Pacific region’s only difference from the Asia Pacific is the addition of India. But in the Chinese view, the vast coverage of the Indo-Pacific region greatly intrudes on China’s BRI,22 which since its inception has prioritized the geographical area to the west of China. Now that the United States had expanded its own focus westward to cover South Asia and the Indian Ocean, the Chinese could not help but perceive this as a deliberate strategic design to compete with China’s own geoeconomic strategy embedded in the BRI.23

The rivalry between the United States and China is first reflected in the region on China’s periphery, where Beijing has been vigorously trying to push the United States out or at least further away from its border. Even in the previous “Asia Pacific” framing, some Chinese experts had been arguing that while the United States was a Pacific country, it was not an Asian nation and therefore it did not have an innate role to play in the Asian region.24 The Chinese proposal in the 2014 CICA was that “Asian affairs should be managed by Asians,”25 which was a clear rejection of US involvement. But now that the United States was expanding its strategic framing and embedding itself as a central player in the broader Indo-Pacific region, for China this was clearly a declaration of a war of competition over the sphere of influence.

What was more worrying for the Chinese was the Trump administration’s framing of the strategic competition between the United States and China in the Indo-Pacific region as one between “two different ideologies and development models represented by liberalism versus authoritarianism and by free-market economy and state-dominated economy.”26 Once the competition became ideological, the dichotomy would make coexistence much more difficult. The reference to a “new cold war” and the repeated attacks and criticisms on the Chinese Communist Party, including Washington’s effort to differentiate between it and the Chinese people, rang the alarm bells loud and clear in Beijing that the ultimate US goal in this competition was the delegitimization of the Chinese Communist Party and therefore regime change. Such an assessment fundamentally rendered coexistence, let alone cooperation, impossible, many concluded.

China saw regional security architecture as a key pillar of Trump’s Indo-Pacific strategy. Focused on the Quad, Beijing saw the effort to elevate the role of key regional countries to weave a net of coalitions among like-minded countries as an attempt to counter China’s growing influence in the region.27 Under Trump, neither Japan, India, nor Australia exhibited a particularly friendly posture toward China. The Quad’s focus on infrastructure development, coordination in maritime affairs, and especially the international order, demonstrated to China that the United States was upgrading the regional coalition to diversify its coverage from political and security affairs to economic and ideological domains. And these are domains where China used to enjoy financial resources and inspirational advantages among developing countries. Especially on infrastructure development, which traditionally had offered China tremendous leverage and influence among the developing countries, the US efforts to ramp up its own financing through the Development Finance Corporation founded in 2019 and to coordinate with partners in this domain posed a direct alternative to the dominant Chinese role in this field.

In terms of regional security presence, Chinese saw the Trump administration’s exploitation of China’s rift with maritime Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea, posing China as the single largest security threat to them, as undermining China’s relations with these countries. US enhanced Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS); joint military exercises; defense capacity-building for India, Vietnam, and the Philippines; strengthening of alliances with Japan and Australia; and defense cooperation with India all “formed a collective security arrangement against China,” worsening China’s security environment.28

All in all, when China looked at Trump’s Indo-Pacific strategy and the implications for China, it saw a highly confrontational and hostile United States trying to organize a broad regionwide coalition of like-minded countries to counter and outcompete China’s geopolitical and geoeconomic strategies in the region. The United States positioned itself the front and center in the anti-China coalition as its leader, planner, organizer, and coordinator. The counterbalancing and competition were comprehensive, manifested through political, military, economic, security, infrastructure, development, diplomatic, and ideological domains. People could debate how successful this strategy was under Trump, but it is undeniable that the following Biden administration has followed the reorientation of Trump, continued great power competition as the theme of US national security strategy, and carried on the legacy of a focus on a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” albeit with a different approach toward China.

2017: Testing the Ground

For the first year of the administration, Beijing’s primary goal was to test Trump’s China policy and exactly how transactional he could be on issues China deemed important. The congratulatory phone call from the Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen to president-elect Trump on December 2, 2016 left a sense of uneasiness, but the concern was quickly dispersed when Ivanka Trump made a surprise visit to the Chinese embassy in the United States for the Lunar New Year reception on February 1, 2017, bringing her daughter, who sang a “Happy New Year” song in Mandarin in a video Ivanka posted on Instagram the next day. The message received was a greatly positive one. As the first daughter and first granddaughter had shown so much interest in and goodwill, Chinese policy wonks could not help but believe that this was a positive sign that relations would be okay.

The spring of 2017 also witnessed active diplomacy by Chinese ambassador, Cui Tiankai, with Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband and a rumored “top China advisor to Trump.” The introduction of Cui to Kushner was allegedly made by Henry Kissinger, and the useful connection directly contributed to the extension of Cui’s tenure to an unprecedented eight years from 2013 to 2021. Cui was originally supposed to depart soon after the inauguration of Trump, but after he established a reliable relationship with Kushner, perhaps the most credible channel of communication into the inner circle of Trump, the connection became so critical for China that he stayed in his post. When connections were less effective, Cui’s continued tenure became a matter of necessity: with the deterioration of US-China relations, people feared either Beijing would not appoint his successor or that his successor might not be accepted by Washington. Cui’s departure, therefore, could possibly have led to a de facto downgrading of diplomatic relations.

With Cui’s connection to Kushner and quiet diplomacy to pave the way, Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi quickly paid a visit to Washington, which led to the negotiation of a visit by Xi Jinping to Mar-a-Lago on April 6 and 7. China thought the meetings at Mar-a-Lago would be sufficient to establish a working relationship between the two presidents and strike a positive start of bilateral relations under the Trump presidency. Looking back, they might have regretted their naiveté toward Trump and his art of the deal.

Under the Obama administration, the United States and China had used the Strategic and Economic Dialogue as the annual, primary government-to-government mechanism for policy consultation, but it was notorious for its cumbersome operation.29 The administration quickly abandoned it and instead started its own new mechanism, with four pillars including diplomatic and security dialogue, comprehensive economic dialogue, law enforcement and cybersecurity dialogue, and social and cultural dialogue.30 The Chinese were pleased with Trump’s demonstrated interest in “managing differences,” and a sense of “business as usual” was prevalent by the end of the Mar-a-Lago summit.31

What bothered the Chinese the most, however, was the uncertainty associated with Trump’s North Korea strategy. By early April, Trump’s national security team had completed a broad policy review on North Korea and concluded this review by setting a new policy course of “maximum pressure.”32 Against the backdrop of accelerated North Korean provocations, Trump hurled a series of criticisms against North Korea on social media, which peaked with the references to “fire and fury” in August and to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as “the rocket man” in September.33

To extract Chinese cooperation on North Korea was a key component of Trump’s “maximum pressure.” Secondary sanctions on China increased significantly, including on the Bank of Dandong, targeting the country’s financial transactions with North Korea.34 Conversations about contingency planning also increased exponentially during the year. General Joseph Dunford was granted a visit to China’s Northeast region bordering North Korea, and the two sides exchanged important information about their plans during a potential North Korea contingency.35

Trump demonstrated to the Chinese very early his desire for transactions on important foreign policy issues. In April 2017, he delivered a famous quote, saying that he “explained to the Chinese president that a trade deal with U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!”36 Beijing took the message to heart. Combined with the fact that China-North Korea relations had deteriorated to a historical low by 2017,37 China did deliver unprecedented international cooperation that no previous US president had been able to convince China to deliver. 2017 witnessed the passing of five UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea, four of which strengthened sanctions: resolutions 2356, 2371, 2375, and 2397. Together, these imposed the most significant trade sanctions on North Korea, impacting especially its revenue through export of coal, iron ore, seafood, textiles, and labor. The Chinese agreed to this sanctions regime not only to punish a North Korea that was defiant toward China, but also in the hope of inducing more positive policies from Trump toward China.

By the time Trump embarked on his first trip to Asia in November, including a state visit to Beijing, the US-China relationship was in a relatively positive place. The two countries signed commercial contracts and bilateral investment deals totaling more than $250 billion, including an agreement on US energy exports to China.38 The Chinese were relatively reassured that Trump was, after all, “a businessman.” And they were convinced that as long as Trump would continue to look for deals with China in bilateral relations, things would eventually work out.39 Trump’s new National Security Strategy, released on December 18, already named China and Russia as the new focus of US security strategy, but at that time, few in China were able to comprehend or foresee the complete shift of the US national security focus or the consequences it was going to unleash.

2018: From Trade War to New Cold War

The honeymoon period between Trump and China did not last. Despite China’s unprecedented cooperation on passing and implementing sanctions on North Korea, the trade deal it got from Trump was not much better. In the Chinese view, once Trump established the direct channel of communications with Kim Jong-un and a face-to-face meeting was being planned, he quickly moved to pushing China on the trade front. On March 22, 2018, Trump imposed Section 301 tariffs on $60 billion worth of Chinese products40 in order to force China to change its “unfair trade practices.”41 On July 6, an additional 25% tariff was imposed on $34 billion worth of Chinese products.42 The Chinese Ministry of Commerce retaliated on the same day with China’s own 25% tariff on $34 billion worth of American products,43 including soybeans,44 one of the most important agricultural exports to China. But with the imbalance in US-China trade and the fact that the United States runs a significant trade deficit, it was obvious that China was not able to impose exactly the same amount of tariffs on the same total amount of American products exported to China. By the end of summer 2018, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce already termed the encounter as “the largest trade war in the history of global economy.”45

In the Chinese view, Trump’s trade war did not make sense46 in that it did not address the fundamental lack of competitiveness in certain sectors of the US economy. In 2018, bilateral trade did not even decrease because of the tariffs. According to Chinese official statistics, it increased by 8.5%, including a 19.2% increase of Chinese exports. The American statistics offered a slightly lower growth rate: 3.9% in total trade and 6.7% in Chinese exports to the United States.47 Despite the trade war, China continued to be a top trading partner of the United States. In the Chinese view, given the cost differentials, even if the United States did not import from China, the market share of these imports would only be absorbed by other developing country suppliers rather than US domestic suppliers. But the emerging concept of “economic decoupling” was beginning to have an impact. Initially, the Chinese were dismissive of the concept because they could not imagine what it would mean and how it could happen, let alone the astronomical costs it would impose not only on the Chinese economy but also on the US economy and market.

On the security front, the progression of the trade war roughly coincided with Trump’s direct engagement with Kim Jong-un. On March 8, 2018, the White House shocked the world with the announcement that Trump had accepted an invitation from Kim to meet in person, conveyed through South Korean National Security Advisor Chung Eui-yong.48 Trump’s acceptance led to a series of interactions between the United States and North Korea, including a historical visit to the White House by the North Korean spy chief, Kim Yong-chol,49 to negotiate a Kim-Trump summit, which eventually took place in Singapore on June 12, 2018.50

China was left out. The seven years of deterioration of China-DPRK relations since Kim Jong-un had taken over had led to a lack of communications and coordination by the beginning of 2018. And given Trump’s maximum pressure on North Korea and his eager solicitation of Chinese cooperation on sanctions, the Chinese thought they were leveraging the issue for the betterment of US-China relations, playing the role of bad cop through the UN sanctions. US direct engagement with North Korea triggered fear of exclusion. Suddenly, China found itself the odd man out

Beijing scrambled to put things back on track. Within days of the announced acceptance of a meeting with Kim Jong-un by the United States, China privately arranged for Kim to visit China. The first visit occurred on March 25,51 approximately two weeks after the US announcement. After that, Kim visited China in early May and again after the Singapore summit in June, with both visits for the purpose of communicating and consulting on the summit.

One could argue that 2018 was a very successful year for North Korean diplomacy, as Kim Jong- un had played China and the United States against each other to force Beijing to rekindle ties. But for China, which is no stranger to North Korean manipulation, the level of perceived manipulation, exploitation, and capriciousness of the United States was completely new. The development attested to Trump’s duplicitous exploitation of China’s influence and role on North Korea, only to dump China afterwards. China was ultimately able to mend ties with North Korea, and history proved once again that North Korea and the United States are not able to improve relations as long as the nuclear issue is not addressed. But the result did suggest to China that the worst-case scenario—a Korean Peninsula where both North and South Korea are aligned to the United States—is not completely impossible if the United States is willing to embrace North Korea. That assessment exacerbated China’s sense of vulnerability and security anxiety about its immediate neighborhood. The Chinese also learned how aggressively Trump’s regional strategy could undermine China’s core security interests. Missing in China’s narrative was any recognition of the US long-shot strategy to keep “maximum pressure” while trying to entice denuclearization, seen in Washington as in China’s interest too in pursuit of regional peace and stability.

For China, the curtain of the new cold war was thrust open by Vice President Pence in his October 4 speech at the Hudson Institute. From suspected interference in American politics to China’s stomping on the freedom of its own people, Pence issued a long list of alleged offenses in a single public indictment.52 Chinese attention was quickly drawn to the concept of a “new cold war” that is heavily imbued with not only a security dilemma, but an ideological divide.

2019: Acceleration of Deterioration

The United States and China ended 2018 with an unprecedented historical event. On December 1, Trump and Xi met at the G20 summit in Argentina, during which the two agreed to a “truce” on the trade war.53 On the same day that the agreement was reached, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested54 in Canada under the charge of violating US sanctions on Iran. Huawei’s international stature and its dubious relationship with the Chinese government made the case particularly sensitive for Beijing. If the Chinese government was unable to protect the CFO of its largest and most successful telecommunications company operating on the global stage, it would lose the confidence and support of the Chinese private sector players going global under Beijing’s instructions. China promptly moved to retaliate by arresting two Canadian citizens in its famous move of “hostage diplomacy.”55 The Trump administration was not moved by the Canadian appeal to address the issue since it saw this as enforcement of sanctions, which had been blatantly violated, to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. The case of Meng Wanzhou continued for the next three years, tanking China-Canada relations. It became a symbol of US “unfair and unjust” persecution of Chinese entrepreneurs,56 a living manifestation of the US containment of the Chinese high-tech sector,57 and a critical obstacle to progress in US-China relations.58

The trade war continued to escalate in 2019. On May 5, Trump announced a 25% tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese exports.59 China responded by imposing a 5–25% tariff on $60 billion worth of American products.60 On August 1, Trump announced a 10% tariff on the rest of Chinese exports to the United States ($300 billion in total).61 China responded with the suspension of the purchase of US agricultural products62 and a 5–10% tariff on $75 billion worth of US products.63

Looking back, people realize that Trump’s buildup of tension, tariffs, and trade war were most likely a strategy to maximize his pressure and negotiating position with the goal to reach the optimal trade deal in the following year for his reelection campaign.64 But at that time, what Beijing perceived was relentless escalation, one round after another, to put more pressure on the Chinese economy and bilateral trade. The deepened tension exacerbated Chinese anxiety and hostility in the security and political realms, with rippling effects across the Indo-Pacific region.

In 2019, Taiwan emerged with a special role in the US Indo-Pacific strategy, which hit Beijing’s most sensitive nerve. The Department of Defense’s Indo-Pacific Strategy report in June more clearly defined Taiwan’s role in the region from the perspective of the United States and listed Taiwan alongside US partners such as Singapore, New Zealand, and Mongolia.65 2019 also witnessed a significant increase in US arms sales to Taiwan, with three announcements totaling almost $10 billion.66 Additionally, Beijing believed that the United States and Taiwan collaborated to arouse the tension and public protests in Hong Kong against the Chinese central government.

In the broader Indo-Pacific region, the Chinese assessment of the US role under Trump is mixed. On the one hand, there is a strong conviction that Trump and his “America first” mantra had shaken the confidence of some regional allies, especially Japan and South Korea. The Chinese believe that Abe’s change of attitude toward China’s BRI would not have occurred if Japan had not become more skeptical of US commitments,67 and South Korea, under a progressive party, had pursued a policy that at a minimum sought neutrality that would balance between the United States and China68 and at the maximum constituted a realignment of Korean national security strategy.69 US-North Korea rapprochement ended rapidly after the Hanoi Summit, failing to produce any concrete result on both  the denuclearization that Washington was seeking and the easing of sanctions that Pyongyang wanted. Xi paid a historic visit to North Korea to make sure that Pyongyang would not act out of line again.70 Under Trump, some Chinese even considered Northeast Asia to be tilting significantly toward China’s leadership role in the region.71

For the rest of the Indo-Pacific, however, the US role was more destructive to China’s agenda. The United States built up the strength of its partners in the region, especially the military capabilities of Australia72 and India.73 It also provided significant support and capacity building to claimant countries in South China Sea disputes, especially Vietnam74 and the Philippines.75 Furthermore, Trump was able to get NATO countries to be more involved in the Indo-Pacific, including through securing plans by the United Kingdom and France to send warships to the South China Sea for patrolling and FONOPs.76 While China’s attention was focused on the bilateral front with the United States, the deterioration of relations had translated into increasingly negative perceptions of the US role in the Indo-Pacific, deepening the division of the region.

2020: Free Fall

The most fitting description of US-China relations in 2020 was “free fall.” Never before had the Chinese witnessed such severe deterioration of relations with the United States. By the middle of 2020, senior-level official communications were almost entirely suspended. From the suspension of travel at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic77 to blaming China for its failure to manage the pandemic domestically,78 the Trump administration launched an extremely harsh campaign to punish and counter China throughout the year. According to Chinese observers, between May and July, senior administration officials released statements and speeches to attack China from political, economic, ideological, and security perspectives, sending the signal that the US engagement policy toward China since Nixon had changed to a policy of pressure and confrontation, but also that the United States felt the need to challenge the Chinese political system and push for “regime change.”79 Once that conclusion was reached, there was no more space for peaceful coexistence between the two countries, 80 or between the Chinese Communist Party government and the Trump administration.

Trump’s anti-China policy did not save his reelection campaign, but his reelection failure also did not save US-China relations either. During the last two months of the administration, the United States lifted restrictions on Taiwan interactions,81 declared China’s Uyghur policy “genocide,”82 imposed sanctions on 14 vicechairs of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress due to the Hong Kong issue,83 and imposed visa restrictions on members of the Chinese Communist Party and their relatives.84 The impact of these policies persists. As of the beginning of 2024, the Biden administration has not removed most of the designations, sanctions, tariffs, or restrictions.85

Beijing was preoccupied domestically by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and internationally by the free fall of US-China relations in 2020. Its view of the US role in the Indo-Pacific had also shifted, blaming the Trump administration for focusing its national security and grand strategy agenda entirely on confrontation with China.86 The role of the United States in the Indo-Pacific had therefore changed to be one of an orchestrator, designer, and leader of an anti-China coalition that eventually would divide the region into a bipolar world. Through hardware and software investment such as the newly established Development Finance Corporation87 and Blue Dot Network,88 the United States actively competed with China’s economic statecraft in the Indo-Pacific region. It had strengthened FONOPs and the capacity-building capabilities of maritime Southeast Asia. In 2020, a QUAD ministerial meeting took place in Tokyo,89  realizing a US regional mechanism to counter China’s role in the region. In addition, the border clash between China and India in June 202090 was a significant watershed in China-India relations, pushing India to pursue closer ties with the US more vigorously. The clash happened a few months after Trump’s visit to India,91 anchoring India’s need for closer US-India defense cooperation. While China does not yet perceive India as an adversary in South Asia or the Indian Ocean, the rapid boosting of India’s prestige and capacity does pose another challenge to China’s pursuit of regional dominance.

China’s perception of its external environment deteriorated severely in the last year of the Trump administration. By December, China was so concerned about a potential war with the United States over Taiwan that General Milley called China twice to “de-escalate.”92 Under the circumstances and given that China was under lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese view of the US role in the Indo-Pacific turned significantly more hostile. But Beijing’s primary goal in 2020 was to prevent the free fall of Sino-US relations from transforming into a real conflict. Therefore, as Beijing waited for Trump to step down, China’s approach to the Indo-Pacific region was also framed primarily through the lens of US-China competition.


The Trump administration was the most difficult US administration with which China had to deal since the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1979. Although Chinese had always perceived competition as one part of Sino-US relations,93 prior to Trump they did not think it could have or would have been the only theme. Furthermore, they did not believe that a confrontation was wise or possible between the two greatest superpowers in the world, both of which are nuclear powers. But all of these beliefs evaporated under the Trump presidency.

The US role in the Indo-Pacific, in the Chinese view, had turned into the organizer, orchestrator, and leader of a roadmap to turn the region into a battlefield for influence as well as fertile ground to build an anti-China coalition. From North Korea to the South China Sea, from Australia to India, everywhere China looked, the Trump administration had a plan to undermine China’s role and relationships. Regardless of whether they wanted to admit it, a new iron curtain had descended.

1. For example, a piece published on the online site of People’s Daily warns of proponents of the concept discussing the Quad countries encircling China and the strengthening of US military presence in China’s periphery. 苏格, “2018:世界变局与中国外交,” 人民网, February 26, 2019, http://world.people.com.cn/n1/2019/0226/c187656-30903155.html

2. For example, 吴正龙,“美国“印太战略”能走多远?” 人民网, October 2, 2018, http://world.people.com.cn/n1/2018/0802/c1002-30191550.html

3. For example, a China Youth Daily piece outlined the United States’ efforts to contain China through drawing in many countries across the region, noting the Defense Department’s inclusion of the Indo-Pacific Strategy and its formulation of overall strategies targeted at China. 中国青年报, “遏制中国的“印太战略”是如何稳步推进的, ” 新华, August 9, 2018, http://m.xinhuanet.com/mil/2018-08/09/c_129929588.htm.

4. “美国对中国改变已经失去信心了,所以现在转向了利字当头、交易性的政策方向,” from 赵穗生, “从’错位的共识’ 到竞争对手:美国对华政策40年,”  人民论坛网,  March 14, 2019, http://www.rmlt.com.cn/2019/0314/542007.shtml

5. Government of the People’s Republic of China, “习近平同美国总统拜登通电话,”  Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States of America, July 29, 2022, http://us.china-embassy.gov.cn/zt_1/twwt/stzxbt/202207/t20220729_10730463.htm.

6. Steven Lee Myers and Paul Mozur, “Caught in ‘Ideological Spiral,’ U.S. and China Drift Toward Cold War,” The New York Times, July 23, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/world/asia/cold-war-china-us.html

7. “中美对抗对两国和世界肯定是灾难, ” in Government of the People’s Republic of China, “校正航向 排除干扰 实现中美关系健康稳定发展,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs, December 19, 2020, https://www.mfa.gov.cn/web/gjhdq_676201/gjhdqzz_681964/sgwyh_682446/zyjh_682456/202012/t20201219_9385466.shtml

8. “对于[特朗普当选],很多中国人都乐观的认为特朗普会为中国崛起提供更为宽松的国际空间,” from 杨其静, “特朗普当选,中国面临巨大挑战,” 政策简报 11:4 (November 2016), http://nads.ruc.edu.cn/upfile/file/20161123101638_794425_45090.pdf

9. 丁一, “特朗普恶症与美式民主的危机:偏执妄想,族裔政治,虚辞至上,” 澎湃新闻, November 6, 2016, https://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_1555307.

10. For example, Xinhua and Global Times re-ran a piece by former president of the United Nations Security Council Kishore Mahbubani that spoke to the ability of China’s meritocratic system of governance to outperform plutocracy. 环球网, “新加坡前驻联合国大使马凯硕:为什么特朗普政府帮了中国,” 新华, June 19, 2020, http://www.xinhuanet.com/world/2020-06/19/c_1210668964.htm.

11. For example, “习近平:坚持多党合作发展社会主义民主政治 为决胜全面建成小康社会而团结奋斗,” 新华, March 4, 2018, http://www.xinhuanet.com/politics/2018lh/2018-03/04/c_1122485786.htm and 张吉雄, “中国特色社会主义民主政治的新发展,” 学习强国,  September 7, 2020, https://www.xuexi.cn/lgpage/detail/index.html?id=6721419623661432435&item_id=6721419623661432435.

12. 特朗普……言行如此不“道德”,却又受到如此之多的人的追捧,最后居然能够登堂入室成为美国总统,这反过来说明美国社会堕落的程度,” from 段德敏, “民粹主义的“政治”之维,” 学海 , 4 (2018) https://www.rccp.pku.edu.cn/mzyt/88544.htm.

13. “中国有舆论宣称特朗普只是一位实用主义的商人,好像他没有自己的阶级性、政治性和意识形态属性,因此只要中国和特朗普做好商业谈判和交易,中美关系将更加和谐和顺利,” from 马钟成, “特朗普时代、右翼保守主义与美国资本主义的寒冬,” 求是,  May 24, 2017, http://www.qstheory.cn/dukan/hqwg/2017-05/24/c_1121024494.htm

14. Government of the People’s Republic of China, “中美经贸摩擦的成因与对策:基于贸易预期理论的视角,” Ministry of Commerce Public Business Information Service, November 1, 2019, http://chinawto.mofcom.gov.cn/article/br/bs/201911/20191102909597.shtml.

15. 严瑜, “’美国优先’ 让美国更“自我,” 党建网, December 7, 2017, http://www.dangjian.com/djw2016sy/djw2016gjgc/201712/t20171207_4516684.shtml.

16. 韦宗友, “’美国优先’ 对美韩、美日同盟的影响,” China Institute of international Studies, December 18, 2019,

17. Ibid.

18. “欧洲距离战略自主还有多远,”新华, April 13, 2023, http://www.news.cn/world/2023-04/13/c_1129520461.htm and 环球时报, “欧洲涉华民调与美国迥异!更多人认为中国是伙伴,若冲突拒绝选边站,” CCTV, June 9, 2023, https://news.cctv.com/2023/06/09/ARTIp0HkPcMpTOECKOtUgK7N230609.shtml

19. For example, an article on China-Japan cooperation in Vietnam notes the extent to which this cooperation is impacted by the United States, which is implied to hinder future cooperation, from 李天国, “李天国:’一带一路’框架下中日在越南的第三方市场合作——基于贸易关系的比较研究,” 复旦大学, July 31, 2021, https://brgg.fudan.edu.cn/articleinfo_3819.html.

20. For example, Ambassador Cui highlighted Trump’s warm welcome in Beijing and the significant progress on deals made by the two countries on the trip and Chinese analysts expressed optimism about the opportunities for cooperation following the trip, “崔天凯: 特朗普的访问是建设性的和富有成效的,” 中国日报, November 17, 2017, https://cn.chinadaily.com.cn/2017-11/17/content_34624374.htm and “新时代中美合作的世界意义,” 新湘评论, November 8, 2017, https://www.cnxxpl.com/content/2017/11/08/8676102.html.

21. Government of the United States of America, “A Free and Open Indo-Pacific: Advancing a Shared Vision,” Department of State, November 4, 2019, p. 5, https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Free-and-Open-Indo-Pacific-4Nov2019.pdf

22. For example, China’s Ministry of Commerce republished a paper that described a competing regional initiative and implied that the initiative was part of a broader attempt to contain China in the region: Government of the People’s Republic of China, “’亚非增长走廊’ 倡议:内涵、动因与前景,”  Ministry of Commerce Public Business Information Service, September 6, 2019, http://chinawto.mofcom.gov.cn/article/br/bs/201909/20190902896994.shtml

23. According to an interview with former Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng, complementary initiatives to the BRI would be welcomed, whereas overlapping initiatives would create a negative outcome. The implication is that if the Indo-Pacific strategy and its infrastructure investment is not complementary to the BRI, it would therefore be competitive and creating a negative outcome. Government of the People’s Republic of China, “外交部副部长乐玉成接受英国《金融时报》专访实录,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs, September 26, 2018, https://www.mfa.gov.cn/web/ziliao_674904/zyjh_674906/201809/t20180926_9870282.shtml.

24. 王缉思, “王缉思:美国认为世界只有一个老大,没有老二,” Institute of International Studies Peking University, March 3, 2015, http://www.iiss.pku.edu.cn/info/1016/1115.htm.

25. Government of the People’s Republic of China, “习近平在亚洲相互协作与信任措施会议第四次峰会上的讲话,” Central Government Portal, May 21, 2014, https://www.gov.cn/xinwen/2014-05/21/content_2684055.htm
韦宗友, “美国印太战略演变趋势及影响评估,” 人民论坛, May 7, 2021, http://www.rmlt.com.cn/2021/0507/613374.shtml

26. 韦宗友, “美国印太战略演变趋势及影响评估,” 人民论坛, May 7, 2021, http://www.rmlt.com.cn/2021/0507/613374.shtml

27. 李勇慧, “中俄美三角关系:现状、特点、成因及应对,” 俄罗斯东欧中亚研究  5, republished in一带一路专家观点, November 1, 2018, https://www.ydylcn.com/zjgd/334553.shtml.

28. 韦宗友, “美国印太战略演变趋势及影响评估.”

29. “The U.S.-China S&ED: Time to Tinker, Not to Toss,” Claire Reade, Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 27, 2016, https://www.csis.org/analysis/us-china-sed-time-tinker-not-toss

30. China, U.S. should make good use of four dialogue pillars: Chinese state councilor,” Xinhua, February 9, 2018, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-02/09/c_136961876.htm.

31. This was the impression that Cui gave at a speech on April 24, from 殷淼, “崔天凯全面阐述中美元首海湖庄园会晤后的中美关系,” 人民网, April 25, 2017, http://world.people.com.cn/n1/2017/0425/c1002-29234154.html

32. Matt Spetalnick, “Trump national security aides complete North Korea policy review – official,” Reuters, April 2, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-nuclear-review-idUSKBN1740UY/ and Josh Rogin, “Opinion: Trump’s North Korea Policy is ‘maximum pressure’ but not ‘regime change,” Washington Post,  April 14, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2017/04/14/trumps-north-korea-policy-is-massive-pressure-but-not-regime-change/

33. Jeff Zeleny, Dan Merica, and Kevin Liptak, “Trump’s ‘fire and fury’ remark was improvised but familiar,” CNN, August 9, 2017, https://www.cnn.com/2017/08/09/politics/trump-fire-fury-improvise-north-korea/index.html and Meghan Keneally, “From ‘fire and fury’ to ‘rocket man,’ the various barbs traded between Trump and Kim Jong Un,” ABC News, June 12, 2018, https://abcnews.go.com/International/fire-fury-rocket-man-barbs-traded-trump-kim/story?id=53634996.

34. Zeeshan Aleem, “Why Trump just slapped new sanctions on Chinese banks,” Vox, June 29, 2017, https://www.vox.com/world/2017/6/29/15894844/trump-sanctions-china-north-korea-bank

35. Gordon Lubold and Jeremy Page, “Top U.S. General Breaks Bread With Chinese Soldiers on North Korea’s Doorstep,” Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/top-u-s-general-builds-closer-ties-to-chinese-military-during-visit-1502900111

36. David Lawder, “China will get better U.S. trade deal if it solves North Korea problem -Trump,” Reuters, April 11, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-trump-china-northkorea-idUKKBN17D1FY/

37. Yoichi Funabashi, “Opinion: Why Trump’s North Korea strategy can’t succeed,” Washington Post, June 11, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2017/06/11/why-trumps-north-korea-strategy-cant-succeed/.

38. “Chinese, U.S. companies sign over 250 bln USD business deals,” Xinhua, November 9, 2017, http://www.xinhuanet.com//english/2017-11/09/c_136740329.htm.

39. “崔天凯: 特朗普的访问是建设性的和富有成效的.”

40. Government of the United States of America, “Remarks by President Trump at Signing of a Presidential Memorandum Targeting China’s Economic Aggression,” White House Statement, March 22, 2018, https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-signing-presidential-memorandum-targeting-chinas-economic-aggression/

41. Government of the United States of America, “President Trump Announces Strong Actions to Address China’s Unfair Trade,” Office of the United States Trade Representative, March 22, 2018, https://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/press-releases/2018/march/president-trump-announces-strong

42. Government of the United States of America, “USTR Releases Product Exclusion Process for Chinese Products Subject to Section 301 Tariffs,” Office of the United States Trade Representative, July 6, 2018, https://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/press-releases/2018/july/ustr-releases-product-exclusion

43. Government of the People’s Republic of China, “关于对原产于美国的部分商品加征关税的公告,” Ministry of Commerce, June 16, 2018, http://www.mofcom.gov.cn/article/ae/ai/201806/20180602756389.shtml

44. Government of the People’s Republic of China, “对美加征关税商品清单一,” Ministry of Commerce, June 16, 2018, http://images.mofcom.gov.cn/www/201806/20180616015345014.pdf.

45. Government of the People’s Republic of China, “商务部新闻发言人就美国对340亿美元中国产品加征关税发表谈话,” Ministry of Commerce, July 6, 2018, http://www.mofcom.gov.cn/article/ae/ag/201807/20180702763232.shtml

46. “认清本质 洞明大势 斗争到底——中美经贸摩擦需要澄清的若干问题,” Xinhua,June 16, 2019, http://www.xinhuanet.com/world/2019-06/16/c_1124629943.htm

47. Government of the People’s Republic of China, “2018年中美贸易投资简况,” Ministry of Commerce, May 2, 2019, http://www.mofcom.gov.cn/article/i/dxfw/nbgz/201905/20190502859509.shtml

48. Ali Vitali, “President Trump agrees to meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un,” NBC News, March 8, 2018, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/south-koreans-deliver-letter-trump-kim-jong-un-n855051

49. “Trump meets North Korea’s Kim Yong-chol at White House,” BBC, January 18, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46925425.

50. Government of the United States of America, “Joint Statement of President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the Singapore Summit,” White House Statement, June 12, 2018, https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/briefings-statements/joint-statement-president-donald-j-trump-united-states-america-chairman-kim-jong-un-democratic-peoples-republic-korea-singapore-summit/

51. Steven Jiang and Joshua Berlinger, “North Korea’s Kim Jong Un met Xi Jinping on surprise visit to China,” CNN, March 28, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/27/asia/north-korea-kim-jong-un-china-visit/index.html

52. Jane Perlez, “Pence’s China Speech Seen as Portent of ‘New Cold War’,” New York Times, October 5, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/05/world/asia/pence-china-speech-cold-war.html

53. Julian Borger, “Donald Trump and Xi Jinping declare trade truce at G20,” The Guardian, December 1, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/02/donald-trump-and-xi-jinping-declare-trade-truce-at-g20

54. Julia Horowitz, “Meng Wanzhou: Huawei CFO arrested in Canada, faces extradition to United States,” CNN, December 5, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/05/tech/huawei-cfo-arrested-canada/index.html.

55. Roland Paris, “China’s Worrying Use of Canadians as Diplomatic Chips,” Time, January 29, 2019, https://time.com/5514456/china-canada-bargaining-chips/.

56. 央视新闻客户端, “外交部:孟晚舟事件毫无公正性可言,” CCTV, August 26, 2021, http://m.news.cctv.com/2021/08/26/ARTI034y3ayBSKc7FvrKjoy0210826.shtml.

57. 张周项, “世界观 | 孟晚舟回国,外媒怎么看?” 中国日报, September 26, 2021, https://cn.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202109/26/WS61503ed1a3107be4979efc96.html.

58. Fudan Development Institute, “沈逸:我们如何看待孟晚舟事件,” 沈逸, September 26, 2021, https://fddi.fudan.edu.cn/4b/b4/c18965a412596/page.htm.

59. Spencer Kimball, “Trump will increase tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25%,” CNBC, May 5, 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/05/trump-says-tariffs-on-200-billion-of-chinese-goods-will-increase-to-25percent-on-friday.html.

60. Government of the People’s Republic of China, “国务院关税税则委员会关于对原产于美国的部分进口商品提高加征关税税率的公告,” Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council, May 13, 2019, https://www.gov.cn/xinwen/2019-05/13/content_5391208.htm

61. “Trump announces new 10% tariff on another $300B worth of Chinese goods,” CBC, August 1, 2019. https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/trump-china-tariffs-1.5233295.

62. Government of the People’s Republic of China, “中国相关企业暂停新的美国农产品采购,” Ministry of Commerce, August 6, 2019, http://www.mofcom.gov.cn/article/ae/ag/201908/20190802887951.shtml

63. Government of the People’s Republic of China, “国务院关税税则委员会发布公告决定对原产于美国的约750亿美元进口商品加征关税,” Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council, August 23, 2019, https://www.gov.cn/xinwen/2019-08/23/content_5423933.htm

64. For example, a writer at Politico argues that Trump was eager to show his success at making good on his campaign promises, while another analyst notes the Phase I trade deal allowed Trump to boost his reelection chances. Furthermore,  from Luiza Ch. Savage, “‘There’s China and there’s everything else’: Trump’s trade wars scramble domestic political fights,” Politico, June 13, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/13/global-translations-trump-trade-2020-1362790  and Si Yang, “Trump, Xi Each Find Victory in Trade Deal,” VOA News,  January 26, 2020, https://www.voanews.com/a/usa_trump-xi-each-find-victory-trade-deal/6183189.html

65. Government of the United States of America, “Indo-Pacific Strategy Report: Preparedness, Partnerships, and Promoting a Networked Region,” Department of Defense, June 1, 2019.

66. http://www.taiheinstitute.org/UpLoadFile/files/2020/1/10/152626698d529073f-0.pdf

67. For example, Yan Shenchun, a researcher at the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs, explicitly links Abe’s choice to Trump’s “America first” posture in, “The Belt and Road Initiative Should Become a New Platform for Mutually Beneficial Cooperation between China and Japan,” Foreign Affairs Journal, 1 (2018): 63–64, https://www.cpifa.org/Site/There/Uploads/20200724/127%E6%9C%9F%20_1_.pdf.

68. Chung Min Lee, “South Korea Is Caught Between China and the United States,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 21, 2020, https://carnegieendowment.org/2020/10/21/south-korea-is-caught-between-china-and-united-states-pub-83019.

69. Eric J. Ballbach, “South Korea’s Evolving Indo-Pacific Strategy: Opportunities and challenges for cooperation with the EU,” SWP Research Paper, March 17, 2023, https://www.swp-berlin.org/10.18449/2023RP02/

70. Jung H. Pak, “Mr. Xi goes to Pyongyang,” Brookings, June 24, 2019, https://www.brookings.edu/articles/mr-xi-goes-to-pyongyang/.

71. For example, researchers from the China Peripheral Security Research Center claim that “China’s strong and abrupt rise has already seriously threatened America’s hegemonic governance, economic, and military system in Northeast Asia that it constructed after the war,” (中国的强势崛起,已经严重威胁到美国在战后构筑的东北亚政治、经济、军事霸权体系), from朴光姬, 李芳, and 王立鹤,  “历史演进视角下特朗普政府东北亚政策研究,” 东北亚研究, Sohu, April 13, 2020, https://www.sohu.com/a/387555710_619333.

72. For example, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted previously unthinkable joint military exercises including the United States and Australia as well as cooperation in the South China Sea, from Government of the United States of America, “The U.S. and Australia: The Unbreakable Alliance,” United States Department of State, August 4, 2019, https://2017-2021.state.gov/the-u-s-and-australia-the-unbreakable-alliance/

73. Bilal Kuchay, “India, US sign key military deal, symbolising closer ties,” Al Jazeera, November 2, 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/11/2/india-us-military-deal.

74. Derek Grossman, “U.S. Striking Just the Right Balance with Vietnam in South China Sea,” TheRandBlog, November 23, 2017, https://www.rand.org/pubs/commentary/2017/11/us-striking-just-the-right-balance-with-vietnam-in.html.

75. For example, the Trump administration sent a destroyer near Mischief Reef, which is in the Philippines’ claimed territorial waters, to challenge China and issued a statement that effectively endorsed all of the Philippines’ maritime claims, from “USS Dewey in South China Sea "trespassed" in freedom of navigation sail-by of Mischief Reef, Beijing says,” May 25, 2017, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/china-uss-dewey-warship-south-china-sea-mischief-reef-freedom-of-navigation-trump/ and Matthew Lee and Lolita C. Baldor, “U.S. rejects nearly all Chinese claims in South China Sea,” July 13, 2020, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/u-s-rejects-nearly-all-chinese-claims-in-south-china-sea.

76. “France, UK announce South China Sea freedom of navigation operations,” Naval Today, June 6, 2018, https://www.navaltoday.com/2018/06/06/france-uk-announce-south-china-sea-freedom-of-navigation-operations/

77. Michael Corkery and Annie Karni, “Trump Administration Restricts Entry into U.S. from China,”  New York Times, January 31, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/31/business/china-travel-coronavirus.html.

78. Dan Mangan, “Trump blames China for coronavirus pandemic: ‘The world is paying a very big price for what they did,’” CNBC, March 19, 2020, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/19/coronavirus-outbreak-trump-blames-china-for-virus-again.html.

79. 吴心伯, “特朗普对中美关系的冲击与美国对华政策剖析,” 复旦学报 (社会科学版), 5 (2021): 171, https://iis.fudan.edu.cn/_upload/article/files/af/c7/3a8848e34152b9e7924750e98a19/86b4de06-38c6-4adc-a9aa-e0525e4f3aa5.pdf.

80. For example, whereas Wang Yi confidently asserted the United States’ ability to coexist peacefully with China in 2017, Ambassador Cui in early 2020 questioned whether it could. Government of the People’s Republic of China, “王毅:中美应超越社会制度不同和零和博弈思维,” Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles, March 8, 2017, http://losangeles.china-consulate.gov.cn/zgxw/201703/t20170308_5094519.htm and Government of the People’s Republic of China, “崔天凯大使在“中美关系论坛”上的讲话,” Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States, February 2, 2022, http://us.china-embassy.gov.cn/chn/zmgx_1/lrzmds/ctk/202111/t20211130_10459238.htm

81. Idrees Ali and David Brunnstrom, “Pompeo lifts restrictions on U.S.-Taiwan relationship as clock runs out on Trump administration,” Reuters, January 9, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN29E0Q5/.

82. Humeyra Pamuk and David Brunnstrom, “In parting shot, Trump administration accuses China of ‘genocide’ against Uighurs,” Reuters, January 19, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN29O25E/.

83. Government of the United States of America, “Specially Designated Nationals List Update,” Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, December 7, 2020, https://ofac.treasury.gov/recent-actions/20201207.

84. Gerry Shih, “Trump restricts U.S. visas for Chinese Communist Party members and families,” Washington Post, December 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/us-visas-china-communist-trump/2020/12/03/bf6694ea-3551-11eb-9699-00d311f13d2d_story.html.

85. Hans Nichols, “Biden preparing to keep many of Trump’s China tariffs,” Axios, January 5, 2024, https://www.axios.com/2024/01/05/biden-keep-many-trump-china-tariffs.

86. “美国对华战略的 ‘全政府’ 方式:概念、逻辑与现实,” Center for International Security and Strategy, n.d., https://ciss.tsinghua.edu.cn/info/zmgx/3776 

87. “Senators Coons, Cornyn introduce bill to strengthen investment capacity of Development Finance Corporation: Senator Coons’ BUILD Act established DFC in 2018,” Office of Senator Chris Coons Press Release, June 22, 2023, https://www.coons.senate.gov/news/press-releases/senators-coons-cornyn-introduce-bill-to-strengthen-investment-capacity-of-development-finance-corporation.

88. Jennifer Lyn, “US Blue Dot Network to counter China’s BRI,” Asia Times, May 21, 2020, https://asiatimes.com/2020/05/us-blue-dot-network-to-counter-chinas-bri/.

89. Abhijnan Rej, “Quad Foreign Ministers Meet in Tokyo Amid Post-Pandemic Concerns,” The Diplomat, October 7, 2020, https://thediplomat.com/2020/10/quad-foreign-ministers-meet-in-tokyo-amid-post-pandemic-concerns/.

90. “India-China clash: 20 Indian troops killed in Ladakh fighting,” BBC, June 16, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-53061476.

91. Kevin Liptak, “Trump concludes India visit without major agreements,” CNN, February 25, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/24/politics/donald-trump-india-narendra-modi-trade/index.html.

92. Andrew Desiderio, “Milley: Beijing’s fears of U.S. attack prompted call to Chinese general,” Politico, September 28, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/28/milley-china-congress-hearing-514488.

93. The first joint communiqué between the PRC and the United States issued on February 28, 1972 said that countries should be willing to engage in peaceful competition (“各国应该……愿进行和平竞赛,” utilizing a lighter form of the word “competition”, “竞赛,” than the harsher form, “竞争”). Government of the People’s Republic of China, “中华人民共和国和美利坚合众国联合公报(一九七二年二月二十八日发表,” Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States of America, republished June 1, 2010, http://us.china-embassy.gov.cn/zmgx_1/zywj/lhgb/201006/t20100601_5060580.htm

Now Reading China’s Strategic Thinking toward the US Role in the Indo-Pacific, 2017-2020