Council on Foreign Relations: China’s Belt and Road Initiative demands U.S. response

Note: This blog post is my brief summation of the webinar mentioned below. I was one of dozens of people who watched it.

The Council on Foreign Relations released a report on Tuesday suggesting China’s Belt and Road Initiative poses challenges to the U.S. all over the world.

The release of the report coincided with a webinar in which the report’s architects outlined why a strong U.S. response to the Chinese initiative is essential so that Washington can make up lost ground on Beijing.

The webinar’s panel included Jennifer Hillman and David Sacks, who co-wrote the report, and Jacob Lew and Gary Roughead, who co-chaired the effort. (You can read the full report here.)

Lew, perhaps most recognized as Secretary of the Treasury during Barack Obama’s second term, offered a sharp rebuke of China. He suggested the country saw no reason to accept the U.S. as a role model on the international stage and that it demonstrated “no reluctance” to gain more power around the world.

Two themes developed during the webinar: China has expanded the premise of the BRI to include technological opportunities growing out of its dominance in the 5G space and the U.S. must develop more trade policies throughout Asia.

Sacks, a research fellow at CFR, said China is well “in front of the pack” when it comes to 5G technology, which the panel ominously noted affords Beijing intricate surveillance and data collection opportunities. Roughead, who served as Chief of Naval Operations, from 2007-2011, added that the “elevation” of digital threats had to be a paramount concern of the Biden administration.

Hillman, a senior fellow for trade and international political economy at CFR, said the inroads China has made with trade deals throughout Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, “enhances China’s sense of power.” She added that throughout these regions, China is considered more powerful even though the U.S. maintains a lead in overall investment.

I’ll offer an opinion piece soon.

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