Trump’s Flip-Flops on China Are a Danger to National Security

Trump’s Flip-Flops on China Are a Danger to National Security

  • China is a real threat.
  • That requires a serious U.S. strategy, not bellicose rhetoric designed to distract voters from the administration’s failures.

With deaths and infection rates from the pandemic surging and the U.S economy suffering, President Donald Trump and his administration seem to have come up with an alternative plan for the reelection campaign: a call to arms against China. Only five months ago, Trump was praising his Chinese counterpart and “very, very good friend”, Xi Jinping, for his “hard work” and “transparency” on the coronavirus outbreak, hailing a supposedly “momentous” phase-one trade deal, and declaring the U.S.-Chinese relationship to be “the best it’s been in a long, long time.”

Now, instead of flattering China’s leadership, Trump has pivoted to a policy of trying to remove it. The administration has begun to portray China as an implacable and determined “totalitarian” enemy whose goal is to destroy the American way of life and impose a Marxist-Leninist ideology on the world—a threat from which only a second Trump term can save us. The administration rolled out its new strategy last week in a series of increasingly inflammatory speeches, culminating in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s July 23 address at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library. Pompeo declared that 50 years of engaging China had failed, denounced Xi as a “true believer in a bankrupt, totalitarian ideology,” and warned Americans that “Communist China is already within our borders.” Ominously, Pompeo insisted that “we must induce China to change”—or else “Communist China will surely change us.”