TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — With the U.S. presidential election only 14 days away, three former U.S. national security advisors, including John Bolton, cautioned on Monday (Oct. 19) that China will be a major challenge for the U.S. in the future.
They urged the U.S. and its allies to confront the multiple threats posed by Beijing, such as in the fields of military, cybersecurity, and influence operations, according to a CNA report.
U.S. think tank the Atlantic Council invited three former U.S. national security advisors for a discussion of the nation’s future, including John Bolton who served in the Trump administration, James Jones who served under Barack Obama, and Robert McFarlane who served under Ronald Reagan.
Bolton said that militarily, the two biggest threats to Washington’s survival in the 21st century will be China and Russia. Bolton also pointed out that the next U.S. president cannot ignore more imminent threats; for example, nuclear weapons issues involving North Korea and Iran.
Bolton urged the next president to avoid cuts to defense spending and to instead extend the country’s military capabilities.
McFarlane held that the primary threat facing the U.S. comes from China, whether militarily, technologically, or from soft power initiatives like the Confucius Institutes. He also warned of Beijing’s penchant for debt-trap diplomacy.
To counteract such strategies, McFarlane said that the U.S. needs to work with its allies. He cited the U.K. banning Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s participation in its 5G network construction as a successful example of this approach.
In response, China threatened to back out of the U.K.’s nuclear power plant project, which prompted U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to offer for the U.S. to replace China’s role, said McFarlane.
McFarlane noted that although Pompeo was right to assist an ally, the U.S. is not in an ideal position to build nuclear power plants, as it has not done so for 30 years. He emphasized this is where a deep network of alliances can help find the right partner for the job.
Jones said many people think that by the second half of the 21st century, countries will have to face a binary choice between the U.S. and China. He added that the U.S. ought to reassert the values upon which it will continue to foster its alliance structure.