China in Focus: Expert Insights on China’s Continued Rise

Expert Insights on China's Continued Rise above Michael Morell, Sue Gordon, and Meghan L. O'Sullivan. Blog header.

International relations continue to evolve with the dynamic shifts in strategic power competition. As experts consider the impact of global affairs on American business and society, they’re keeping their eye on China and its rise as one of the major competitors to the United States’ dominance. Not only does China continue growing militarily and technologically, but their international influence is rapidly advancing.  

We’ve collected expert insights on the China-U.S. dynamic from some of the world’s most respected geopolitical authorities and compiled them into this post for your convenience. Ultimately, these speakers detail their recommendations on how the United States can pivot and respond to these trends in order to uphold its standing on the world stage.  


Private Tech Sector Key to Limiting China’s Access to U.S. Property

michael morell headshotFormer CIA Deputy and Acting Director Michael Morell thinks investing in the private technology sector is critical for the United States. To compete with China, Morell argued that the United States must manage China’s access to data and find their advantage in “long-lasting network(s) of like-minded partners.”  

He also stated that policymakers should drive private sector innovation in “areas like cloud computing, semiconductors, supply-chain resiliency, and other key competition areas with China.” Not only will this drive competitive advantage, it will also limit the amount of information and data that China is taking from the United States. 


China-U.S. Competition can Be Beneficial to Drive Innovation

Meghan O’Sullivan, a Harvard professor and administrator, and former presidential advisor, argues that the meghan o sullivan headshotUnited States and China’s competitive dynamic may be beneficial to drive innovation in both countries. “The U.S. has passed its first big piece of climate legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act...and that’s about really trying to instigate technological advancement and investment in clean energy because China was doing exactly that on the energy transition,” she explained.  

O’Sullivan also mentioned that the reliance on China’s supply chains is worrying and if geopolitics didn’t matter, everyone would rely on China. However, because geopolitics matter, driving innovation in the clean, green energy sector is critical to compete with them.  


Annexing Taiwan Is Long, & Complicated; Won’t Happen Overnight 

eric traupe headshotFormer CIA Assistant Director and renowned national intelligence leader Eric Traupe recently shared his perspective on China’s end goal of annexing Taiwan. While reiterating that China will eventually make a move to annex Taiwan, Traupe argues that this will not happen overnight, let alone this year. He said, “It’s much harder to do than everybody thinks from a military tactics standpoint.”  

Traupe contests that the numerous variables, such as Chinese military mindsets, tactical strategies, and the political context in China must be considered prior to any movement on Taiwan. 


Investing in Africa is Critical for the United States 

Thirty-year national security leader and former Principal Deputy Director of National sue gordon headshotIntelligence Susan Gordon believes that focusing on Africa is critical in the coming years. She stated, “We are the most attractive partner...between choosing us or choosing China, it’s not even a close call but we’re not putting ourselves in in the same way (that China is).”  

She went on to point out that African nations are turning to China because the United States is not investing. With its deeply inspiring population, abundance of natural resources to spare, and rapidly growing population, the United States must focus on investing in Africa.  


China Must Invest More in the Private Sector to Compete with the U.S.  

Linda Weissgold, who served as the CIA Deputy Director for Analysis from 2020-2023, linda weissgold headshotunderscored just how extensive the threat of Chinese advancement could be. She said that China is trying to change the international world order and they are the “most pernicious geopolitical challenge for the United States.”  

To add to that, she explained that China intends to overtake the United States in every domain, including, but not limited to, military, ideological, technological, economic, space, and cyberspace competitions. Weissgold thinks that “tapping into the private sector will be crucial to winning any competition with China.”  


China’s Military Might Is Troubling for the U.S.

Mike Studeman, a retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral, renowned national intelligence leader, mike studeman headshotand China expert offered the following in regard to China’s military might: “They (China) have almost 350 to 400 ships. We have been struggling with trying to break the 300 threshold. These ships the Chinese are building are advanced and have very lethal weapons.”  

Further, he explained that Chinese industrial forces can respond more quickly and from longer ranges. To Studeman, these numbers are troubling, and the United States not only has a reason to worry but must keep advancing their own industrial force if they are to compete.   


Space and Cyberspace Are Key to a Competitive Advantage

Former Deputy Director of National Intelligence and presidential intelligence briefer Beth Sannerbeth sanner headshot thinks space and cyberspace are key to maintain a competitive advantage on the international scale. She stated, “If we do not win, or hold our own, in space and cyber, it doesn’t matter how much other stuff we have. We’re not getting to the battle. We’re not sustaining ourselves in battle if we do not win in space and cyber.”  

Further, she pointed out that both China and Russia have invested a lot in counterspace among other things and have “ground-based capabilities where they can destroy our satellites.” 


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