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Greitens Testifies Before the Senate Armed Services Committee

Jul 15, 2021 |

On June 8, 2021, Sheena Chestnut Greitens, Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the LBJ School, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on strategic competition with China. Her testimony focused on China’s approach to national security under President Xi Jinping. This strategy, she notes, is tailored to “preserve the leadership role of the Chinese Communist Party and of Xi himself.” It is therefore characterized by a focus on “internal, non-traditional, and emergent threats,” and by uniquely repressive tactics at home and abroad. Greitens further noted that this expansive definition of security threats includes threats to the ideological framework proposed by the CCP. The broadness of this security definition, she notes, means that almost anything may be considered a threat, which “explains much of the securitization of domestic and foreign policy that we have seen in the last few years.” Greitens also underscored the dialectical nature of the CCP’s treatment of threats and opportunities, wherein every new opportunity presented to the rising nation simultaneously presents new threats. Combined, these factors have led the party to “become more proactive and preventative in its approach to all potential threats.”

Greitens then moved away from a discussion of the declaratory aspects of the CCP’s security strategy and towards an analysis of how it shapes Chinese policy behavior. She noted the ways in which  Xi Jinping has reorganized the military and domestic security forces and his consolidation of the supervision apparatus. Professor Greitens also noted the increased focus on members of the Chinese diaspora and ethnic minority groups, which has led to an increased use of “monitoring, surveillance, ‘relational’ and other forms of repression.” Greitens discussed some of the specific forms of technology which the CCP has employed in its new approach to national security—technologies which have been exported to at least 80 countries.

Greitens concluded by discussing four specific implications for U.S. policymakers. The first is that China’s approach to security has evolved to include non-military tools, so the U.S. must be familiar with and think about competition in light of this broader toolkit. Second, the CCP’s emphasis on regime security stands to “complicate the task of reassurance in US-China relations.” Third, it is urgent that the U.S. address China’s use of surveillance technologies, which are quickly spreading across the globe. And finally, policymakers must understand how the regime is targeting members of the Chinese diaspora community and must innovate ways to address these new policy challenges without stoking racist, xenophobic backlash. Read the full transcript of her testimony here.  

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