“If not now, when?”

That’s one of the key questions Washington must deal with when it comes to the greatest existential menace America must confront and defeat in this century.

The critical matter is not the issue of John Kerry’s climate change. It’s about how to effectively fend off a Communist China that has been polluting America and the rest of the world economically, politically, socially, and of course, environmentally.

Of all the countries in the world, the only one that can effectively challenge the United States is the People’s Republic of China, which is actually neither for the “people” nor a “republic.”

The country is under the absolute control of the Chinese Communist Party, which is devious, cruel, and predatory. Its military and economic capacity and calculated willingness to challenge America and its allies around the world on almost all strategic fronts constitute a threat of unprecedented proportions.

Speaking on the occasion of launching a groundbreaking Heritage Foundation report, “Winning the New Cold War With China,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on Tuesday underscored the gravity of the issue:

China has obviously gotten more aggressive, more transparent about what they’re trying to do in the world. And there’s a growing bipartisan consensus that something needs to happen about it. But I still think this needs a lot more framework. And what I mean by that is that it’s really easy to stand in front of cameras and say, ‘I’m going to be tough on China,’ but I think it has to tie in to why; why does it matter? So that you can do it in a way that’s smart and intelligent and actually serves the national interest.

Indeed, Washington needs a serious, actionable agenda in dealing with the greatest existential threat. To that end, now is not the time to talk about how bad authoritarian Communist China is or who can be tougher in dealing with Beijing. More than ever, it’s time to focus on, and further cultivate, concrete policy actions against the CCP’s coercions that have undermined the values of freedom.   

Unambiguously, China’s freedom deficit has long distorted markets and territories beyond its borders. China has not fared well in The Heritage Foundation’s annual Index of Economic Freedom, which measures economic governance in key areas related to the rule of law, transparency, and openness, among other institutional factors. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

According to the recently released 2023 index, the Chinese economy continues to be “repressive” and stands as the 154th-freest out of 179 countries measured.

More fundamentally, from a broader policy perspective, it should be remembered that the United States now faces a different China from a decade ago. The emboldened leadership in Beijing has become increasingly aggressive, and in many ways, is a threat to America, its interests, and its role in the world.

There still may be time for America to counter China’s malign and manipulative influence, but that window is quickly closing.

Calibrating a new strategy will not come easy for policymakers in Washington. The U.S. government’s rather symbolic and ineffective response to the China challenge has become entrenched after all these years. In the meantime, the CCP leadership will start planning and injecting more aggressive malign actions even before Washington can begin to implement any new, meaningful counterstrategy.

China will be a greater and more urgent defining issue moving forward. America and its allies cannot and should not let a genocidal, tyrannical, communist regime become the world’s leading superpower.

Pointing out that “Under [Chinese President] Xi Jinping, the communist regime has grown more repressive at home and more belligerent abroad,” Kevin Roberts, the president of The Heritage Foundation, noted in a recent commentary:

We are in a new Cold War with the PRC. And winning that war will require a whole-of-government, whole-of-society effort to protect our people and our economy from the malicious actions of the CCP. It’s past time to go on offense.

Indeed, the time to act on that is now.

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