Part III: Next Steps for the U.S. Government

A Plan for Countering China

Part III: Next Steps for the U.S. Government

Mar 28, 2023 9 min read

In summary of key actions from Part II, in order to resist the malign influence of the CCP and to prepare for the threats that the regime poses, the U.S. government must:

Protect the Homeland. To protect the homeland, the U.S. must:

  • Improve cooperation and coordination among federal, state, and local governments to combat China’s growing influence and malicious practices in the U.S.;
  • Insulate U.S. universities and research institutes from nefarious Chinese influences, close down the Confucius Institutes, and curtail access to sensitive research programs by Chinese nationals;
  • Crack down on illegal Chinese police operations in the United States, including by reinstating the Justice Department’s China Initiative;
  • Ban Chinese apps, including TikTok, that pose national security risks;
  • Prevent Chinese entities from purchasing U.S. land with strategic value or near sensitive military and civilian installations;
  • Ban CCP lobbyists and increase penalties on U.S. citizens and non-citizens for failing to disclose foreign lobbying activities;
  • Increase pressure on the CCP to curb fentanyl exports to the U.S. and improve security at the lawless southern border;
  • Institute federal prohibitions on federal agencies from purchasing, operating, or deployingChinese drones and advise state and local governments against using Chinese drones; and
  • Ban dual-capable life-science technology transfers to China that pose biotechnological threats.

Safeguard and Advance U.S. Prosperity. To protect U.S. prosperity, the U.S. must:

  • Facilitate robust U.S. growth and protect the U.S. economy from Chinese economic coercion while promoting sustainable, responsible spending;
  • Reform restrictive environmental statutes and improve business incentives to expand domestic critical mineral mining and processing;
  • Restructure CFIUS to expand review jurisdiction and enforce criteria that allow the U.S. government to better risk-manage inbound investments, particularly from the PRC;
  • Enforce a PRC-focused IP blockade in technologies with military applications, including biotechnology;
  • Ensure reliable semiconductor supply chains by encouraging greater investments in semiconductor manufacturing capacity in the U.S. and sourcing from non-adversarial countries;
  • Encourage strategic industries to shift operations out of China and back to the U.S. or non-adversarial states;
  • Pursue U.S. energy security and combat counterproductive climate policies; and
  • Encourage corporate boards to adopt anti-CCP measures and reject ESG policies that undermine U.S. competitiveness.

Reorient America’s Defense Posture. To reorient its defense posture, the U.S. should:

  • Enhance conventional deterrence and nuclear deterrence and revive the U.S. defense industrial base to support a defense posture sufficient to meet the China threat;
  • Capitalize on the Taiwan Enhance Resilience Act’s authorities to prioritize the delivery of munitions and backlogged weapons systems to Taiwan;
  • Repeal and replace the Jones Act, which hinders the U.S. shipbuilding and shipping industries; and
  • Align national security spending with national security priorities by reallocating funds to the Indo–Pacific through the appropriations process.

Diminish the CCP’s Influence and Hold It Accountable. To diminish the CCP’s influence, the U.S. should:

  • Enhance restrictions on U.S. investments in China in sensitive industries and increase penalties for non-compliance;
  • Expand export controls of sensitive technology to the CCP and reform underperforming enforcement mechanisms;
  • Review China’s compliance of U.S. and WTO agreements for violations that may warrant revoking “most favored nation” status;
  • Employ limited tariffs and non-tariff barriers to compel the CCP to end unfair and predatory economic practices;
  • Investigate the origins of, and China’s culpability in, the spread of COVID-19 and hold Beijing accountable;
  • Counter China’s growing influence in international institutions, particularly where it directly infringes on U.S. interests and seeks to shape consequential laws and norms in its image;
  • Emphasize China’s human rights violations, including religious persecution, and sanction complicit Chinese officials and entities;
  • Reinvigorate the Blue Dot Network as a counter to China’s BRI and separate it from the Build Back Better World initiative; and
  • Draw international attention to Chinese illegal fishing practices, their sovereignty violations, and their impact on regional fishing stocks.

Exercise Global Leadership. To exercise global leadership, the U.S. must:

  • Deter China from using military force against Taiwan while supporting enhanced engagement between Taiwan and the international community;
  • Maintain denuclearization as an explicit goal of North Korea policy and reject Chinese attempts to extract concessions for cooperation on the Korean peninsula;
  • Diminish the value of the China–Russia alliance by weakening Moscow, including through the provision of arms to Ukraine;
  • Prioritize the Quad grouping joining Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S. and look to create a new Quad Select initiative to guide infrastructure investments to Quad countries and select partners;
  • Develop a new regional strategy for South Asia that prioritizes the India–U.S. strategic partnership and enhances India’s ability to serve as a net security provider and deter Chinese military adventurism along their border;
  • Position the U.S. as the partner of choice forSoutheast Asia and maintain a robust economic and security presence in the region;
  • Produce an Atlantic Strategy that reaffirms American leadership and combats China’s expanding influence in the Western Hemisphere;
  • Bolster the development of the 3SI, Ukraine’s reconstruction through the Middle Corridor, and the free and open Black Sea initiatives to counter Chinese regional influence;
  • Cooperate with Canada to restrict China’s growing role in the Arctic and its subversive activities in North America;
  • Revive the Deal Teams Initiative to assist U.S. firms in making strategic investments abroad; and
  • Commit to a new era of U.S. engagement with the Pacific Islands and renew important defense pacts with the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia.

This plan describes the ends, ways, and means that, combined, will secure America’s future while confronting the greatest external threat the U.S. has faced since the collapse of the Soviet Union.307

To achieve success, this plan requires an offensive-defensive mix of actions, including vouchsafing Americans and their interests from Chinese actions that undermine U.S. competitiveness and prosperity. While a spectrum of actions is required, the economic component of this competition is critical. In the end, raw economic power will help to determine the outcome of this contest.

This plan requires real and sustained U.S. growth, greater political will, stronger external partnerships, synchronized economic and security policies, resilient supply chains and borders, adequate military deterrence, and American energy independence. It also requires buy-in from the whole of American society. In order to galvanize a whole-of-nation effort, the U.S. government must educate the American public and business community, from Main Street to Wall Street, about the scope of the CCP’s threats.

The measures outlined in this plan are comprehensive and ambitious. They will require coordinated action across multiple government agencies and Congress, state and local governments, and partner nations. Ultimately, however, China is foremost an Oval Office problem: The U.S. President must exercise leadership in directing a national plan, as the President’s predecessors did during World War II and the Cold War. The President must galvanize Congress to act.

The President’s Domestic Policy Council and National Security Council are appropriate instruments for coordinating interagency measures. That is precisely the role these two bodies were created to play. They must take responsibility for operationalizing government strategy into action. The councils and their staff are more than clearinghouses for consolidating inputs to the President. They must serve as instruments of implementation, organization, and staffing to serve this function. Furthermore, they must share the President’s vision on the scope of the threat and the necessary responses. The President’s Cabinet and National Security Advisor must have the skills, knowledge, and attributes to oversee effective execution.308

The PRC is confronting the U.S. with new challenges in new domains every year, seemingly one step ahead of lawmakers. Poor enforcement of existing laws is arguably as much of a problem as the lack of new legislation and authorities. Agencies and departments with key responsibilities for managing the China challenge are understaffed, undertrained, under-resourced, or suffer from poor leadership and misguided priorities.

The role of Congress is also crucial. Effective action will require more than just liaison and negotiation with congressional leaders. The Administration must be proactive in educating and engaging congressional Members on the responsibilities and realities of dealing with an assertive China. Conversely, Congress must hold the executive branch accountable and should require all federal agencies and federally funded institutions to provide annual reports on any aid, loans, and technical or monetary assistance currently that they provide to the CCP or CCP-linked individuals or entities, including in science and health.

Congress also needs to do a better job of ensuring that executive branch bureaucrats enforce legislative policy actions. Too often, the Treasury and Commerce Departments have skirted their national security responsibilities by failing to enforce legislation related to export controls and inbound investment screening. What is more, both Congress and the Administration need to do a better job of supporting U.S. companies that face intimidation and theft or eviction from the Chinese market by the CCP or that seek to offshore their operations to safer destinations.

Meeting the China challenge will require an unprecedented degree of coordination among federal, state, and local governments. At a federal level, responsibility falls not just to the Departments of Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security—the scope of the China threat necessitates involvement from the Departments of Commerce, the Treasury, and Education, as well as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Trade Commission will also have important roles to play, among others.

Chinese efforts to penetrate, exploit, manipulate, and influence officials and legislators at all levels of government is a persistent and obvious problem. Therefore, implementation of countermeasures must be accompanied by robust counterintelligence, law enforcement, and operational security. This implementation must address both overt lobbying and public activities as well as illegal influence peddling and would be aided by reviving the Department of Justice’s China Initiative.

The U.S. government should also redouble its efforts to communicate with the Chinese people with Mandarin-language programming, including through Radio Free Asia. During the Cold War, Radio Free Europe was an oasis for anti-Communist dissidents in a desert of Soviet censorship and propaganda. Radio Free Asia could serve a similar purpose, but Congress would have to increase its Mandarin-language budget considerably.

Proper implementation of this plan will require a vast number of coordinated actions. Leaders that try to do everything at once, without adequate preparation and prioritization, tend to accomplish little. Sequencing actions and initiatives is crucial. The decisions made on how and when to take action are often as, if not more, consequential than the actions themselves. The first priority remains getting the right leaders in place to execute the plan. It is the responsibility of the core leadership to then take ownership of the plan and make the critical decisions of sequencing action and implementation.

Finally, many initiatives in this plan recognize the need for consultation, cooperation, and action with allied and partner nations. While the U.S. State Department plays a key role in the conduct of foreign affairs, proper implementation of a plan this vital to U.S. national security requires the U.S. President to direct timely, informative, and impactful engagement with other nations, using all the instruments of national power at the government’s disposal.


307. For a comparison with the Cold War, see James Jay Carafano, “‘Is There a U.S.–China Cold War’ Is the Wrong Question,” Heritage Foundation Commentary, November 4, 2022,

308. This is discussed in James Jay Carafano, “Managing Mayhem: How America’s Next President Can Succeed,” Heritage Foundation Commentary, April 3, 2015,

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