WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor said Monday that the winner of the presidential election next month will need to elicit the help of the international community in order to rein in a more ambitious and aggressive China.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who served as Trump’s second national security advisor, described China as the biggest national security threat facing the United States.
“I think whoever gets sworn in on Jan. 20 has to ramp up international coordination and cooperation,” McMaster said in an interview on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.”
“Since the 1990s, China has increased their military spending 800%. It’s the largest peacetime military buildup in history,” he said, adding that the Chinese government has also “been much more aggressive at exporting its authoritarian mercantilist model abroad.”
“This isn’t just a U.S.-China problem, this is a free world-China problem, and if the world’s largest economies work together to counter Chinese economic aggression as well as physical aggression, I think we can go a long way in convincing Xi Jinping that his aggressive strategy is not working,” McMaster said.
The crumbling relationship between Washington and Beijing has intensified following an attempt from the world’s two largest economies to mend trade relations.
The Trump administration places blame squarely on China for a wide range of grievances, including intellectual property theft, unfair trade practices and the coronavirus pandemic.
In June, Trump’s current national security advisor, Robert O’Brien, slammed China for a laundry list of offenses before saying that “the days of American passivity and naivety regarding the People’s Republic of China are over.”
Similarly, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the Trump administration would not allow the Chinese to carry on with espionage and cyberattacks against the United States that have amounted to what he called “one of the largest transfers of wealth in human history.”
Beijing fired back by saying the U.S. is to blame for deteriorating relations.
“The U.S. is pressing the accelerator to trash China-U.S. relations, while China is putting the brakes on,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in July.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee running against Trump, has previously said he would work more closely with allies in order to mount pushback against China. He has also said that during his political career he has spent more time with Xi Jinping than any other world leader, experience that Trump lacks.