The US has said that it will help South Asian nations maintain their sovereignty amid increasing influence of China in the region, according to a new report. The National Security Strategy report (NSS) unveiled by President Donald Trump identifies China along with Russia as rival powers. It also alleges that China is expanding its power at expense of sovereignty of others. “We will help South Asian nations maintain their sovereignty as China increases its influence in the region,” according to the NSS. “For decades, US policy was rooted in the belief that support for China’s rise and for its integration into the post-war international order would liberalise China. Contrary to our hopes, China expanded its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others,” the report said. China gathers and exploits data on an unrivaled scale and spreads features of its authoritarian system, including corruption and the use of surveillance, it alleged. “It is building the most capable and well-funded military in the world, after our own. Its nuclear arsenal is growing and diversifying,” it said.
Part of China’s military modernisation and economic expansion is due to its access to the US innovation economy, including America’s world-class universities, the NSS said in an apparent acknowledgement of the American contribution in the rise of an assertive China. China, it said, seeks to displace the US in the Indo-Pacific region, expand the reaches of its state-driven economic model, and reorder the region in its favour. “China is using economic inducements and penalties, influence operations, and implied military threats to persuade other states to heed its political and security agenda,” it said, adding that China’s infrastructure investments and trade strategies reinforce its geopolitical aspirations.
“Its efforts to build and militarise outposts in the South China Sea endanger the free flow of trade, threaten the sovereignty of other nations, and undermine regional stability,” the NSS said. China has mounted a rapid military modernization campaign designed to limit US access to the region and provide China a freer hand there. “China presents its ambitions as mutually beneficial, but Chinese dominance risks diminishing the sovereignty of many states in the Indo-Pacific. States throughout the region are calling for sustained US leadership in a collective response that upholds a regional order respectful of sovereignty and independence,” the NSS said. China is gaining a strategic foothold in Europe by expanding its unfair trade practices and investing in key industries, sensitive technologies, and infrastructure, it said.
“We will work with our partners to contest China’s unfair trade and economic practices and restrict its acquisition of sensitive technologies,” it added. In Latin America, China seeks to pull the region into its orbit through state-led investments and loans, the NSS said. As such the Trump Administration proposes a new paradigm in developmental assistance.
The US will shift away from a reliance on assistance based on grants to approaches that attract private capital and catalyse private sector activities. “We will emphasize reforms that unlock the economic potential of citizens, such as the promotion of formal property rights, entrepreneurial reforms, and infrastructure improvements—projects that help people earn their livelihood and have the added benefit of helping US businesses,” it said.
By mobilizing both public and private resources, the US can help maximize returns and outcomes and reduce the burden on US Government resources, the NSS said. Unlike the state-directed mercantilism of some competitors that can disadvantage recipient nations and promote dependency, the purpose of US foreign assistance should be to end the need for it, the strategy said. “United States seeks strong partners, not weak ones,” the report said, adding that the US development assistance must support America’s national interests. “We will prioritise collaboration with aspiring partners that are aligned with US interests. We will focus on development investments where we can have the most impact— where local reformers are committed to tackling their economic and political challenges,” it said.