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Chinese President Xi Jinping with U.S. President Donald Trump outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Nov. 9, 2017. Photo: Xinhua / Lan Hongguang via Getty Images

If translated into sustained action, the Trump administration's National Security Strategy will mark a departure from decades of U.S. policy, reframing China as a great power competitor that challenges American military, diplomatic and economic interests.

Every president since Nixon has presupposed that American engagement would transform China before it could upend the global order. Trump's NSS jettisons this assumption, rightly recognizing that China has gamed international institutions, failed to liberalize its political system, pursued a mercantilist economic policy and undertaken a military build-up directly aimed at undermining U.S. military advantage.

To succeed, a more competitive U.S. strategy must upgrade American military capabilities, deepen relations with Asia-Pacific allies and partners, advance a positive regional economic agenda, push back against China's unfair trade and investment practices, and defend core values of democracy and human rights.

What's next: The NSS pays lip service to these elements, but leveraging them all may prove challenging given Trump's focus on military strength. To get tough on Beijing, the administration will have to take economic actions that threaten the larger bilateral relationship. Watch out for moves to punish China for its theft of U.S. intellectual property.

Daniel Kliman is a senior fellow in the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

Go deeper

Border Democrat warns Biden about immigrant fallout

Henry Cuellar (right). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

A Democratic lawmaker representing a border district warned the Biden administration against easing up too much on unauthorized immigrants, citing their impact on his constituents, local hospitals and their potential to spread the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told Axios he supports President Biden. But the moderate said he sees the downsides of efforts to placate pro-immigrant groups, an effort that threatens to blow up on the administration.

3 hours ago - World

Iran rejects nuclear talks with U.S., for now

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at Iran/EU talks in 2015. Photo: Carlos Barria/POOL/AFP via Getty

A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that conditions are not ripe for informal nuclear talks between Iran, the U.S. and other world powers.

Why it matters: The Biden administration had proposed the talks as part of its efforts to negotiate a path back to the 2015 nuclear deal. The White House expressed disappointment with Iran's response, but said it remained willing to engage with Tehran.

3 hours ago - Health

U.S. sets weekend records for daily COVID vaccinations

A driver waits to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Inglewood, California on Feb. 26. Photo: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Just over 2.4 million coronavirus vaccinations were reported to the CDC on Sunday, matching Saturday's record-high for inoculations as seen in Bloomberg's vaccine tracker.

Why it matters: Vaccinations are ramping up again after widespread delays caused by historic winter storms. Over 75 million vaccine doses have been administered thus far, with 7.5% of the population fully vaccinated and 15% having received at least one dose.

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