Going over Strategic
Competition Act of 2021
“China is an adversary that cannot be negotiated with”
By the time, the US Congress passed the Strategic Competition Act of 2021, which authorizes 300 million US dollars to be appropriated for each fiscal year to “counter the malign influence of the Chinese Communist Party globally,” foreign policy critics became sure that the US is going to take on China as its new global competitor. The world had hoped that Biden’s foreign policy doctrine might be somewhat different for his predecessor’s but after the enactment of this frustrated 503-section bipartisan act, it seems that the cold war show is on.
What is the Act?
The act is a naked manuscript of Biden administration’s policy to deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitions. Proposed as a ‘Bill to address issues involving the People’s Republic of China’, it is a policy draft that would authorise investing hundreds of billions of US dollars in lots of budding technologies; which are to define the future world order. The Covid-19 era has brought to the fore the heightened significance of digital realm where virtual reality is to welcome the upcoming generations. The adoption of Strategic Competition Act of 2021 by the US Senate is, more precisely, a bipartisan attempt to restrain the People’s Republic of China from becoming a digital dictator.
The only game is supremacy; if you lose you have no excuse
The legislation came amid the hardest challenge the US faces to its hegemony – even worse than the Soviet red-scare and terrorism. The US seems bedazed with the economic, military and, above all, the technological prowess that has made China openly challenge the US might in these realms. The US policymakers seem in a perpetual counteract struggle since President Xi announced his vision to revive a ‘Greater China’ and offered a better, pragmatic model of economic integration and cooperation to the world. For many critics, this was too late for the US to acknowledge China as a potential threat to its domination. The overextended war on terror in Afghanistan and similar missions in other countries, especially in the Middle East, shattered the US’ hold on global politics. The abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan also manifests US’ scare of a new communist surge possibility.
The Biden administration also contends that the economic models followed by China are flawed and detrimental to existing international order and peace. Hence, Point 17 of Sec. 4. Statement of Policy sets an objective of this act “to expose PRC’s use of corruption, repression, coercion, and other malign behaviour to attain unfair economic advantage and deference of other nations to its political and strategic objectives.”
It also accuses that “the PRC is promoting its governance model and attempting to weaken other models of governance by:
A. undermining democratic institutions;
B. subverting financial institutions;
C. coercing businesses to accommodate the policies of the PRC; and
D. using disinformation to disguise the nature of the actions … ”
For Beijing, and the rest of the world as well, this Act was writing on the wall as there is hardly any doubt that the US is out to set a new cold war theatre, playing China as a villain. Foreign policy analysts have warned that this act will further erode the China-US relationship, and would result in the fall of either of the two.
However, Senator Menendez, during his remarks in the Senate before the first session of 117th Congress passed this act, iterated that there is no possibility of such a rivalry as the act was just a bipartite effort to compete with China.
“This is not about a zero-sum relationship or resurrecting a Cold War mentality. This is about recognizing that in the 21st century, our strategic competition will revolve around the geo-economics of the future, and America’s ability to successfully compete in new and emerging technologies and other hotly contested domains,” he remarked. “This is about securing a regional and international order for the 21st century built on progressive values, one that encourages healthy and fair economic competition, promotes global security and stability, and strengthens human rights around the world,” he said.
Concerns of Pakistan
The first phase of Pakistan’s foreign policy suggests that it has long sought US’ goodwill to meet its strategic and economic ends. It faced, at many times, cold behaviour from Washington for some of its acts that had annoyed the Western bloc; like going for nuclear power, hosting Taliban and most recently pursuing CPEC (China–Pakistan Economic Corridor).
In a second, though shorter, phase, Pakistan struggled to bridge the differences between PRC and the US, and secured multiple achievements in a bipolar imbalance, where it didn’t opt to lose either of the sides.
The current phase of our foreign policy is very crucial. Pakistan’s sovereignty is stumbled by IMF loans, FATF grey list, and worst-ever economic imbalance with historic inflation. The US is restlessly goading Pakistan for its failure against Taliban. The concept of national security also has transitioned from military might to economic security in the 21st century. After the adoption of first National Security Policy (NSP), it seems that Pakistan has, at least, realized that economic security must be the mainstay of its foreign policy. The best-suited character among the US and China will be the favourite [part] of Pakistan’s security play.
The late politics of 2020 and 2021 was chiefly driven by Covid-19 and vaccine antagonism. It was hard to examine the meaning of strategic competition then, but it has, now, come to light. American troops have departed from Afghanistan, with plans to pull out other missions as well, and focussing China to be the next ultimate rival. With B3W and resentment over Beijing Olympics 2022, the future course of global politics is set for a cold war redux. Pakistan’s NSP is also going to be a defining moment in geopolitical history of the country.
The writer is a member of staff.