The White House on December 17 released a new U.S. national security strategy that takes a hard line on China and Russia, saying the two countries are trying to shape a world antithetical to U.S. values and interests.
The document was released shortly before U.S. President Donald Trump was set to present the new strategy, which warns that China and Russia "challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity."
"They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence," it says.
The document also states that "the dictatorships" of North Korea and Iran "are determined to destabilize regions, threaten Americans and our allies, and brutalize their own people" and warns that transnational "jihadist terrorists" and criminal groups are "actively trying to harm Americans."
The security strategy, which was still being drafted over the weekend, is a formal document that each U.S. president since Ronald Reagan has produced, usually every four years.
It comes as U.S. relations with Russia have been driven to a post-Cold War low by disagreements over issues including Russia's aggression in Ukraine, its role in the war in Syria, and its alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election in 2016.
Since taking office in January, Trump has accused China of unfair trade practices, criticized the "militarization" of the disputed South China Sea, and asked Beijing to do more to pressure North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs.
Ahead of the strategy's release, the Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed hope that the document will “play a constructive role to promote world peace and stability and contribute to Chinese-U.S. strategic mutual trust in ensuring world peace and security."
In a speech on December 12, Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said that Russia and China were “undermining the international order and stability” and “ignoring the sovereign rights of their neighbors and the rule of law.”
“In many ways, we vacated a lot of competitive space in recent years and created opportunities for these revisionist powers,” McMaster said, referring to China and Russia.
McMaster said that Russia and China were “undermining the international order and stability” and “ignoring the sovereign rights of their neighbors and the rule of law.”
He said that Russia has pioneered “new generation warfare” that uses “subversion and disinformation and propaganda using cybertools, operating across multiple domains, that attempt to divide our communities within our nations and pit them against each other, and try to create crises of confidence.”
McMaster alluded to the assessment by U.S. intelligence officials that Russia conducted a concerted campaign of interference in the U.S. presidential election in 2016. Putin and other Russian officials deny that Moscow meddled in the election, despite what U.S. officials say is ample evidence.
Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on December 13 that McMaster's remarks were "extremely and absolutely wrong" and that Russia "does not indulge in sophisticated subversion in the United States."
Officials said McMaster and his deputy, Dina Powell, oversaw formulation of the strategy. The policy document was written by Nadia Schadlow, an expert on global competition. Schadlow met with Trump personally during the drafting.
With reporting by Reuters, NBC, The Financial Times, and AP