After World War II, the American foreign-policy establishment was caught up in an intense debate: “Who lost China?” Someone had to be blamed for Mao’s takeover. Today we are hearing the stirrings of a new debate: “Who lost China a second time?” China is marching toward global technological leadership and increasingly challenges the United States both economically and militarily. Who was responsible for letting this happen? In an opinion piece for National Review, Rob Atkinson explains how pretty much everyone—from successive U.S. administrations and the Washington trade and economics establishment to China itself—is at fault.
The U.S. government should have one and only one major trade-policy goal at this moment: rolling back China’s innovation-mercantilist agenda, which threatens our national and economic security. Only this can enable the United States to stay ahead of China militarily, technologically, and economically, at least for the next several decades. Unfortunately, after decades of capitulation and failure, success does not look much more likely today.