US 2019 defense bill targets China and Russia, reflecting Cold War mentality

China Military Online
Yao Jianing

By Hou Jianyu, Li Sikun, and Chen Xin

Heads of the US Senate Committee on Armed Services and the House Armed Services Committee announced that they had agreed on the final draft version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019 on July 23, local time.

The act contains several provisions that are "tough" on China and Russia. At present, the $716 billion bill is still subject to approval by both the House and the Senate and it needs to be signed by the US President Donald Trump.

The final version of the 2019 NDAA calls on the Trump administration to formulate a strategy to counter China's activities in many areas and strengthen military partnership with countries (including China’s Taiwan) in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a report by Cable News Network (CNN) on Tuesday.

Among the five national defense authorization acts from 2015 to 2019, China was mentioned 67 times in 2015 and 57 times in 2017. The draft in 2019 mentions China 29 times.

However, from the content, the earlier acts have focused on more specific areas, such as prohibiting the inclusion of the Chinese missile defense system into the US missile defense system and China's regional influence in the South China Sea and East China Sea. The 2019 version focuses more on strategic contents.

Wu Xinbo, Dean of the Institute of International Studies of China's Fudan University, said on Tuesday that this reflects some of the latest changes in US’ policy towards China. This year's draft focuses on various aspects of politics, economy, and security. It is comprehensive and has increased its defense against China in the latter two aspects. The draft also emphasizes the introduction of a comprehensive strategy to deal with the so-called challenges from China.

The Daily Beast, an American news and opinion website, reported that Hong Lei, consul general of the Chinese consulate general in Chicago, sent a letter to Hultgren, a Republic member of the House of Representatives, objecting to nine sections in the House version of the 2019 NDAA. These sections are related to Chinese tech giants, Taiwan, the so-called Chinese intervention, and so forth.

Hong also criticized the NDAA's designation of China as a strategic competitor of the US and said this move reflected America’s cold-war and zero-sum game mentality.

In addition, the 2019 NDAA will also provide support for the Trump administration in the development of small equivalent ballistic missile warheads to deter Russia.

According to a report from the Russian Sputnik News on Tuesday, the 2019 NDAA claims that the US plans to prohibit military cooperation with Russia, ensure that its strategic partners and allies replace Russian weapons with American weapons flexibly, and prohibit the US government from recognizing Crimea's assimilation into Russia, in a bid to confront Russia.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said the US will never trust Russia in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) News on Monday. "They’re never going to be our friend," said Haley. The Defense News website concluded that military hardware, ultimate strength, and sanctions against China and Russia are the main elements to watch in the 2019 NDAA.

Wu Xinbo said that the National Security Strategy Report released last year by the US called China and Russia the main strategic competitors and the latest draft also reflects such a kind of mood and attitude.

It is inevitable that the US will strengthen pressure on China and Russia in economy, diplomacy, and military terms in the future. However, Trump hasn’t officially signed the act, and the executive departments and Congress still have room for bargaining. The executive departments of the US still have some flexibility in implementation after the signing, Wu said.

Disclaimer: The authors are Hou Jianyu, Li Sikun, and Chen Xin with Global Times. The article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. If the article carries photographs or images, we do not vouch for their authenticity.


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