America's greatest challenge: China or national debt? 
The U.S. Department of the Treasury in Washington D.C., U.S., January 20, 2023. /Xinhua
The U.S. Department of the Treasury in Washington D.C., U.S., January 20, 2023. /Xinhua

The U.S. Department of the Treasury in Washington D.C., U.S., January 20, 2023. /Xinhua

Editor's note: Azhar Azam works in a private organization as a market and business analyst and writes about geopolitical issues and regional conflicts. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily those of CGTN.

Under former U.S. President Donald Trump, the U.S. Department of Justice in November 2018 launched the racist China Initiative to persecute and crack down on Chinese scientists and researchers. The prejudiced program was shuttered last February after several failed prosecutions on alleged Chinese government-linked economic and intellectual property espionage; as envisaged, its backwash effects are being felt.

The establishment of the newly-formed "Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party" on January 10 in the U.S. House of Representatives is again arousing concerns within the country's lawmakers that it will fuel anti-Chinese xenophobia and "endanger" Chinese Americans and people of Asian descent living in the U.S.

Even House lawmakers, who voted for its creation, have a sour view of the select committee, admitting many Asian Americans see it as a new "witch hunt." The crew is the brainstorm of new Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, gambles on the botched China Initiative and wants to beat the wind by trying to block China's economic and technological advancement. 

Mike Gallagher, former counterintelligence officer of the U.S. Marine Corps – the greatest "propaganda organization in human history" – is tasked with uniting the "divided government" against China. The Republican duo labels China as the "greatest threat" to the U.S. and seeks to begin a "new Cold War" with China, exposing their true ominous intentions. 

The committee is sheerly dominated by Republicans; it doesn't have any legislative power. Two years ago, Democrats declined to join the China Task Force and they are yet to announce their members for the select committee on China. As McCarthy has denied two Democrats of seats on the House Intelligence Committee and lacks "political vengeance" for some of them, it seems unlikely the party of "chaos and catastrophe," akin to the prior initiatives, will deliver much to obstruct Beijing's "economic, technological and security progress."

Another turmoil is in the making after McCarthy on January 25 appointed a dozen of the House lawmakers to the select committee on the weaponization of the federal government. The "tinfoil hat" panel – solely authorized with Republican support to investigate the nexus among the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Intelligence and other law enforcement agencies – Democrats worry, will pursue conspiracy theories in addition widening political gulf as it empowers the Republicans to investigate the January 6 attacks on the Capitol Hill and last year's raid at Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence.

A growing "extremist politics" threatens to invade the U.S. justice and intelligence system, dislosing the country's governance system is being challenged from within and that the Communist Party of China (CPC) poses no threat to American democracy and leadership. China's "exponential" farmland purchase in the U.S. is touted as one of the factor's behind this "great power struggle." However, the U.S's own congressmen defy this false narrative, saying Beijing own just 192,000 acres of the total 35 million acres of farmland owned by foreign countries. 

U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (C) speaks to reporters in Statuary Hall after being elected Speaker in the House at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., U.S., January 7, 2023. /CFP
U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (C) speaks to reporters in Statuary Hall after being elected Speaker in the House at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., U.S., January 7, 2023. /CFP

U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (C) speaks to reporters in Statuary Hall after being elected Speaker in the House at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., U.S., January 7, 2023. /CFP

By building on the Cold War-inspired initiatives, showing animosity toward China's peaceful rise and laying focus on bringing back jobs to the U.S., the Republicans just want to tame the CPC? Obviously, their only objective is China's containment. The other goal is to put deep-seated rifts within the GOP – as evidenced by McCarthy's rise to speakership that took an unprecedented 15 rounds of voting although Republicans had the majority in the lower chamber – in abeyance and trot out the same old mantra of the China threat to bunch the party together.

Not just the Republicans are divided; the country's entire political leadership is in a whirl. The Democrat President Joe Biden "absolutely" believes there will not be a new Cold War. Still, the U.S. Department of State has unveiled its own China House to "responsibly manage" competition with China and "successfully" implement U.S. policy and strategy toward "the most complex and consequential geopolitical challenge."

Both Democrats and Republicans are itching to declare a new Cold War against China, knowing the domestic polarization and national debt represent real long-term challenges for the U.S. On January 19, the country's statutory debt ceiling hit the $31.4 trillion borrowing cap, sparking risks of fiscal crisis in the next few months, as leaders of two parties continue to be at loggerheads on spending cuts.

Since 2001 when the U.S. launched the global war on terror to September 2022, America's federal dept had surged from 55 percent to 128 percent of the GDP, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. Twenty years later, the U.S. needs to reassess how severely and adversely this aggressive and meddlesome approach has stolen taxpayers' money and damaged the economy and is leading to suspension of pension and welfare funds for ordinary Americans.

The U.S. national debt now stands at $31.45 trillion. For more than a decade, treasury secretaries almost every year were forced to write a debt limit letter to the Congress to avoid "catastrophic" economic consequences. The row around suspending or increasing debt is spookily identical to that of Republicans' Tea Party campaign, which was founded and funded by elites and 10 years ago brought the U.S. appallingly close to the default with the nation suffering its first ever credit downgrade.

So far in January alone, the U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has given an unprecedented three warnings to McCarthy, notifying him of taking "extraordinary measures" to prevent the U.S. from "defaulting" on its obligations and protect America's "full faith and credit." These preventive actions will allow the government to operate by June 5 when the cap should need an increase to circumvent a devastating economic and international credibility damage to the U.S. and American working families.

At this critical moment, the China hawks on both sides of the aisle, in the newly-installed Republican-controlled U.S. House and Democrat-majority Senate, are more keen to start and win a new Cold War for fear of falling behind Beijing in economy, technology and other areas or by coercing the world into swallowing their vision.

This misguided belief steers clear of the very fact the greatest U.S. challenge to America and the Americans is national debt, which can't be overwhelmed by severing relations with China – but only through enhanced communication and cooperation between Beijing and Washington on economy, trade, investment and climate change for the benefit for the benefit of the people in both countries and sustainable development of the rest of the world.

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