Beijing’s ambitious campaign to dominate global maritime commerce is in full swing. Here’s how the U.S. must respond.
In a speech at the Hudson Institute earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence said that the American people deserve to know of the strategy behind China’s economic and political competition with the U.S. — and of what the Trump administration is doing to counter the Middle Kingdom’s challenge to U.S. security.
“Beijing is employing a whole-of-government approach, using political, economic, and military tools, as well as propaganda, to advance its influence and benefit its interests in the United States,” Pence said, and “applying this power in more proactive ways than ever before, to exert influence and interfere in the domestic policy and politics of our country.”
While the vice president was speaking of the U.S., the American people also deserve to know that China is employing the same playbook beyond our shores, with considerable success. In effect, China has landed, not only by militarizing artificial islands it built in the South China Sea, but by building or acquiring seaports, logistics terminals, and related transportation, communication, and energy assets in more than a dozen countries around the globe, including U.S. allies in the EU and Latin America.
Unlike the high-profile takeover of an American technology company by a Chinese one, the threat to U.S. security posed by China’s new maritime network is all too easy to overlook. Although 90 percent of the world’s energy, commodities, and manufactured goods are transported by ship, few consumers have any direct exposure to shipping or the logistical operations that comprise the “supply chain” of our globalized economy.