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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

Federal judge orders Trump administration to restore DACA

DACA recipients and their supporters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 18. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, giving undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children a chance to petition for protection from deportation.

Why it matters: DACA was implemented under former President Obama, but President Trump has sought to undo the program since taking office. Friday’s ruling will require Department of Homeland Security officers to begin accepting applications starting Monday and guarantee that work permits are valid for two years.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
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Bay Area counties to enact stay-at-home order ahead of state mandate

Golden Gate Park. Photo: Justin Sullivan via Getty

Counties around the San Francisco Bay Area will adopt California’s new regional stay-at-home order amid surges in cases and ICU hospitalizations, health officials said Friday.

The big picture: California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a three-week stay-at-home order on Thursday that would go into effect in regions with less than 15% ICU capacity. Despite the Bay Area’s current 25.3% ICU capacity, health officials from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and the city of Berkeley are moving ahead with a shelter-in-place mandate in the hopes of reducing risk.

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