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Broadly, the U.S. foreign policy community has developed three distinct schools of thought regarding how to address relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Each school has its own unique historical development and vested interests, but only one leads to victory.

The first school, the “Engagement” school, argues that there is no threat from PRC. The Sino-American relationship may be managed and difficulties addressed by more cooperation with the PRC. And if there is a driver of conflict in the Sino-American relationship, it can only be from the “hawks” within the U.S. who seek to foment conflict and spoil what is a beautiful relationship between the elites in the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

By far, this is the dominant school that has defined the Sino-American relationship for a generation since the U.S. formalized relations with the PRC on January 1, 1979. Its arguments are on every network and broadsheet; it dominates think tanks, media, and government. Its apotheosis was the November 2023 meeting in the Bay Area, where 400 of America’s richest business leaders attended a dinner with the PRC’s dictator, Xi Jinping. These 400 gave Xi a standing ovation—not just once, but twice—while Xi explained this vision of tyranny on American soil. Even as atrocious and disgusting that the gathering even occurred, to see leaders of major firms, including Apple and Boeing, sitting with their $2,000-a-plate dinners listening to the PRC dictator explain, in his oblique way, why he was a direct threat to American and allied interests is proof of the anti-Americanism of this crowd and is an indictment of the Engagement School. The event was modern-day equivalent of Judas selling out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver at the Last Supper. These Engagers do not understand or do not care that if Xi and the CCP’s objectives are realized, that it would be the end of American freedoms, society, and power. More incredible is the fact that these 400 do not understand that they themselves will not escape the designs the CCP has on the U.S.

Despite ample evidence of failure, the Engagement school continues apace and thriving like kudzu, despite the temporary interruption of the Trump administration. For instance, Xi has just hosted a meeting in the Great Hall of the People on March 27 with leaders from the American business, strategic, and academic communities, including Stephen Orlins, president of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. Also present were Evan G. Greenberg, chair of the Board of Directors of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of Blackstone, Cristiano R. Amon, president and CEO of Qualcomm, Graham Allison, founding dean of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Craig Allen, president of the US-China Business Council, all of whom spoke fawningly of Xi and the CCP at the meeting. Their purpose was clear and unambiguous; they were there to stand with Xi and thus participate in Xi’s effort to save the tyranny of the CCP by convincing global investors, especially U.S. investors, that the PRC is a safe place to invest. Their efforts were designed to assure the American business community that the relationship may continue, untroubled by any concerns about the CCP’s tyranny, hyper-aggression in world politics, which likely will soon include Taiwan, gross human rights abuses, and genocide against Muslims. The only element that kept this meeting from being as offensive and appalling as its predecessor in November was that it was held on Chinese soil.

The second school is the “Defeatist” school. Its thesis is that the U.S. cannot win the struggle with the PRC because the U.S. is too weak, is in decline, and lacks the fortitude, both spiritual and intestinal, to defeat the PRC. One form of this school has argued that people now live in an era of weakening government, fragmenting society, and pervasive threats, or what is termed a “neomedieval” period, where America has passed the age of prosperity and its national strength is fading. The Defeatist school asserts that U.S. leaders cannot assume that the American people will get behind a war with the PRC, one that will require sustained sacrifice. As a result, they argue, the U.S. must avoid kinetic conflict with the PRC. In practice, this is a prescription for U.S. defeat and abandonment of its national security interests in the Indo-Pacific. Removing the U.S. from the fight leaves a vacuum that the PRC will fill, with dire consequences for the rest of the world, including the U.S.

Many from the Defeatist school had previously been members of the Engagement School and were known for promoting the thesis of what we term “threat deflation” regarding the PRC, and particularly, the PLA. Threat deflationists have asserted the PLA’s capabilities are still “decades away” from being a concern to the U.S. and should not be a reason to disrupt the policies of engagement. Interestingly, since the emergence of the Defeatist school around 2020, these same threat deflators have taken the opposite position that the PRC is now too powerful to confront without risk of thermonuclear war. In the space of just a few years, these same experts have flip-flopped on their assessment of PRC power, unsurprisingly with the same objective of promoting more engagement with the CCP.

The third school is the “Victory” school, whose objective is total victory over the CCP. This requires the defeat of the CCP and its replacement by a Chinese polity that is decided by the Chinese people. It recognizes precisely that the gang of thugs that is the CCP can be defeated. Victory against these tyrants is possible due to the strength of the Chinese people, allied with the inalienable rights of individual freedom and liberty, as exemplified by the people of America and Taiwan. The Victory school recognizes the CCP as illegitimate for three reasons. First, because they were formed and nurtured by the Communist International, and their seizure of power in 1949 was made possible by Stalin with his full backing and support in the wake of the defeat of Japan.

Second, as with the other poison fruits of the Bolshevik Revolution, they seek to sustain the tyranny of the failed ideology of Marxism-Leninism on the Chinese people. The dependence upon this imported Western ideology means that, at root, the CCP’s ideology of Marxism-Leninism and its Chinese idioms, Maoism and later “Xi Jinping Thought,” are illegitimate for China. This ideology should be thought of for what it is: the last surviving form of Western colonialism. Despite the CCP’s efforts, they cannot hide the fact that they are the product of European colonialism.

Third, not only is the CCP illegitimate, but it is now vulnerable because of its abhorrent and contemptible leadership and the accelerated misrule of Communist dictator Xi Jinping. It possesses odious rulers who have forced China to endure decades of misrule. Seventy years of tyranny and wars against the Chinese people have led to scores of millions killed by the PRC regime and the recognition by the Chinese people that the regime rules for itself, not for the people.

Accordingly, the Victory school argues for a singular strategic focus: the CCP must be targeted for destruction through political and economic warfare, backed by U.S. military might. This requires the end of its support from the Engagement school. Investment and trade should be ended, and the CCP should be declared illegitimate and ejected from the bounds of international society. In contrast to the Defeatist school, Victory understands that the American people accomplish great things. This is especially true when they have the right leadership to mobilize them in the fight against the CCP. In contrast to the Engagement school, the Victory school is poorly supported and possesses negligible support among think tanks, media, universities, and government. It is David in the fight against the CCP. Its great virtue is that it is in accord with the logic of strategy and provides the path forward to the defeat of America’s great enemy. Engagement aides the enemy; Defeatism attempts to hide from it; Victory seeks to crush it. One way or another, the dispositive question of whether the 21st century is defined by the tyranny of the CCP or witnesses a re-birth of freedom led by the U.S. will be answered. Engagement and defeatism will lead to the CCP defining this century for the world. Pursuing victory will end the CCP’s tyranny for the betterment of U.S. national security and of mankind.

President Kagame and President Xi Jinping of China Joint Press Conference by Paul Kagame is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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