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White House China report calls Beijing's lack of transparency threat to U.S. interests, officials say

The Trump administration wrote it is “willing to tolerate greater friction in the bilateral relationship” in order to protect US interests, officials said.
Security guards wearing protective face masks stand watch on the Badaling Great Wall of China after it reopened for business following the coronavirus outbreak in Beijing on March 24, 2020.Andy Wong / AP

WASHINGTON — The White House is expected to make its China Strategy public as early as Wednesday, laying out various actions by Beijing that the Trump administration argues threaten American economic interests, security and values.

The strategy report was delivered to Congress on Wednesday after President Donald Trump signed it Tuesday, according to three U.S. officials familiar with the report.

The China Strategy is not focused on COVID-19, but the officials say it cites the pandemic as an example of China’s lack of transparency and the need for continued United States competition with Beijing.

The report says the Trump administration is "willing to tolerate greater friction in the bilateral relationship" in order to protect U.S. interests, particularly American security and economic interests, while stressing that competition does not have to lead to conflict, according to the officials.

Among the threatening actions detailed are China's continued military buildup and claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea, along with intellectual property theft of American technology. The report also outlines "malign behaviors," mostly in the areas of security, economics and values, say the officials.

Included in the document, say the officials, is a list of ways the U.S. is working to counteract China's behavior, including the Navy's freedom of navigation efforts, in which forces operate in areas China claims to own.

The officials would not say whether the report made any mention of human rights issues, specifically the treatment of the Uighurs in China, and Beijing’s crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong.

The new strategy report is in line with the administration's current policy goals and is not a substantial shift in strategy. It was required by the National Defense Authorization Act of fiscal year 2019.