All those who follow the U.S.-China confrontation have recently taken notice of Rush Doshi and his new book, “The Long Game – China’s Grand Strategy to Displace American Order”. The first reason is, of course, the author’s important status as director of China affairs at the White House National Security Council; second, the fact that Rush Doshi has been given the important task of being a post-80s person, representing a generational change at the heart of U.S. policy toward China; and third, the fact that the new book provides a systematic and articulated text for understanding Washington’s new thinking on China.
These three factors provide an important note to the surprising assertiveness of Biden since he took office, that is, the hawks, mainly of the middle-aged and young generation, have completely dominated the debate on U.S. strategy toward China, not only in the Republican Party but also in the Democratic Party. This is certainly not because the hawks have a new and more powerful doctrine, but rather Xi’s nefarious actions toward Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang, and his ambition to seek hegemony by epidemic, have taken the words out of the mouths of any appeasers. In other words, no matter what you have advocated in the past, in the face of cold political reality, the United States has no choice but to “throw away illusions and prepare for a struggle,” even a long-term one. That being the case, Washington needs new people, new ideas and a new set of narratives that are more acceptable to most Americans, and so Du Ruisong is given the task and his new book on China’s grand strategy.
So what do we see in this new man, new ideas and new strategic arguments? Du Ruisong, like Bo Ming, has not had the opportunity to be corrupted by the sugar bomb of the CCP, but has personally witnessed and felt the stifling of freedom of thought and the omnipresent social control and coercion of authoritarian China. This is the basis for their disagreement with the “old friends of the Chinese people. Like Bo Ming, Du Ruisong’s familiarity with the political methods, discourse, and mindset of the contemporary CCP is unmatched by their mentors and predecessors. This is their strength and potentially their weakness when it comes to dealing with the CCP’s challenges.
Like Bo Ming, Du Ru Song has long since concluded from empirical intuition that Beijing is by its very nature stern, and that the Chinese Communist Party therefore knows best the phrase “to do unto others as they would have done unto you. So it does not surprise me that Du Ruzong advocates using American asymmetric warfare against CCP asymmetric warfare, but I, like many people who understand the CCP and Chinese culture, am uncomfortable with Du Ruzong’s “China grand strategy” argument. On the surface, his discussion of China’s grand strategy appears to be academically sound, supported by a wealth of literature and data, but I believe there are important strategic considerations to this discussion. One consideration is to avoid too much blame and criticism of the “panda-embracing” faction of the past, which, after all, needs to be united in the face of a major enemy; the other is to make it easier for the American public to understand the serious threat from Beijing.
The question is how to explain why China today is so strong and so weak, so dangerous and with such a wide range of options. It certainly cannot be explained by the fact that China has a “grand strategy” that borders on conspiracy theory, nor can it be explained by nationalism, nor should it be explained solely in terms of China. His new book is not meant to be an academic discussion, but rather a statement of America’s determination to defend its values and way of life for the American electorate to understand and for America’s enemies to be convinced that this determination is unshakeable.
China’s real threat to the world is not that she is trying to replace the United States, but that she has a seriously suicidal political culture. Xi Jinping’s dreamy, almost insane words are not due to irrationality, but to a cultural dilemma of “universalism” that has led him to make the same choice as Cao Cao: “I would rather lose the world than have the world lose me. Xi’s ability to kidnap not only China, but also to threaten the world, shows that this ancient dilemma remains to be solved.