State Department to Release Cold War-Style Papers on China’s Rise

The document is inspired by a 1947 essay from George Kennan, where he outlined the policy of containment to face the Soviet Union

The State Department’s Office of Policy Planning is expected to release a document that outlines Washington’s strategy to face a rising China. The papers are inspired by a 1947 essay in Foreign Affairs by George Kennan that introduced the containment policy the US followed to confront the Soviet Union.

Axios obtained a copy of the document, titled, “The Elements of the China Challenge.” The paper is over 70 pages and identifies China as a threat to the world due to the ideology its government believes in, channeling Cold War rhetoric.

“To understand China’s peculiar form of authoritarianism and the hegemonic goals to which it gives rise, it is necessary to grasp the intellectual sources from which China’s conduct springs: the CCP’s Marxist-Leninist beliefs and the party’s extreme interpretation of Chinese nationalism,” the document reads.

The document outlines “ten tasks” the US must do to face China (from Axios):

  1. Promoting constitutional government and civil society at home.
  2. Maintaining the world’s strongest military.
  3. Fortifying the rules-based international order.
  4. Reevaluating its alliance system.
  5. Strengthening its alliance system and creating new international organizations to promote democracy and human rights.
  6. Cooperating with China when possible and constraining Beijing when appropriate.
  7. Educating Americans about the China challenge.
  8. Train a new generation of public servants who understand great-power competition with China.
  9. Reforming the US education system to help students understand the responsibility of citizenship in a complex information age.
  10. Championing the principles of freedom in word and in deed.

News of the document’s release comes after reports that said the Trump administration is planning a series of hardline actions against China before January 20th to make it politically untenable for future presidents to reverse. Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration is “not finished yet” with being tough on Beijing.

The document will be the second major policy paper from the administration that emphasizes so-called “great power competition” with China. The 2018 National Defense Strategy outlined the US military’s shift in priorities away from counter-terrorism in the Middle East towards great power competition with China and Russia.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.