Editor's Note

By Jonathan Tepperman

In the two-plus years since The Catalyst last dedicated an issue to China, the country has changed in profound ways. The Ukraine war, the COVID-19 pandemic, and President Xi Jinping’s consolidation of near-absolute power have dramatically altered China’s domestic outlook, its geopolitical position, and its strategy. So we thought it was time to turn to a group of top-tier experts to ask what it all means: for China, the United States, and the world.

Peering inside China, Yanzhong Huang of the Council on Foreign Relations starts things out by examining how President Xi’s response to the coronavirus has badly wounded China’s economy – and how his recent decisions are undermining Beijing’s attempts to reopen and recover. Next, Nury Turkel, Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, updates us on China’s ongoing – yet often overlooked – genocide against the Uyghur people.

Three essays look at the recent shifts in China’s relations with the rest of the world. Yun Sun of the Stimson Center explains how the economic crisis has forced President Xi to moderate his aggressive foreign policy – but she warns that the milder tone won’t last. Alexander Gabuev of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace explores how Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine has made Moscow ever more dependent on Beijing. And the Bush Institute’s own Jessica Ludwig and Chris Walsh dissect all the ways – some obvious, many not – that China now threatens the rights of ordinary Americans.

How should Washington and the rest of the democratic world respond to these challenges?  In “How to Protect without Protectionism,” Victor Cha – a Senior Fellow at the Bush Institute and a professor at Georgetown – outlines the best strategy for countering China’s economic coercion without worsening the U.S.-China trade war. Elisabeth Braw of the American Enterprise Institute turns to the Cold War history of her native Sweden for guidance on how Taiwan can best defend itself from a Chinese invasion. And in an exclusive interview with The Catalyst, Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin and Chair of the new Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, discusses his agenda, the flaws in the U.S. government’s current approach, and how the United States can “selectively decouple” its economy from China’s.

I want to close this letter on a personal note (but don’t worry, I won’t make it a habit). This is my first issue running The Catalyst, and I’m delighted by the challenge. Our founding editor, the eminent Bill McKenzie, created something very special: a high-minded, nonpartisan publication that focuses on solutions – and through them, making the world a better place. While my phrasing may sound corny, those principles have become all too rare these days – which makes them precious. As our country grows ever more polarized, so does our media. We at The Catalyst and the Bush Institute aim to fight that trend, and I’m excited by the prospect of finding new ways to do so – with your help. I welcome your thoughts in the months ahead; please let me know what you like, and even more important, what you don’t.

Leave your feedback with The Catalyst editors