US President Donald Trump to lay out National Security Strategy, with China seen as major competitor

According to senior officials, President Donald Trump's National Security Strategy calls for a stronger America to face new challenges.
According to senior officials, President Donald Trump's National Security Strategy calls for a stronger America to face new challenges.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON - A National Security Strategy (NSS) set to be unveiled in a few hours by President Donald Trump sees China as a major competitor to the United States across a broad spectrum of domains.

The NSS calls for a stronger America to face new challenges, senior officials told journalists at a briefing.

The US' three main challenges are revisionist powers that seek to shape a world antithetical to American interests and values; rogue regimes that spread terror, threaten neighbours and pursue weapons of mass destruction; and transnational threat organisations that foment hatred and incite violence against innocents in the name of ideology.

Revisionist powers would include Russia and China.

"China competes effectively across the political, economic, military and information domains," said one of the officials.

"We do not rule out cooperation in any way," the official said. "We know that we need China, and we continue to work with them on the (North Korea) problem. It is not mutually exclusive. We are working together to cooperate at the same time acknowledging that competition exists as well. Competition doesn't mean you don't also cooperate."

A revisionist power is one that seeks to change the status quo, according to the officials.

"Most people would argue that Russia… sought to change the status quo in Europe. With China's building in the South China Sea, they're trying to change the status quo, usually with military means… in their favour."

The NSS lays out four overarching pillars or "organisational principles" - protecting the homeland, the American people and the American way of life; promoting American prosperity; peace through strength; and advancing US interests.

The first includes border security, cyber security and ballistic missile defence. The second is essentially about renegotiating trade deals and strengthening America's innovation base. The third is on defence modernisation, with what analysts are saying is a particular focus on technological innovation and nuclear security.

Climate change is not identified as a national security threat, but climate and the importance of the environment and environmental stewardship are discussed, the officials said.

While the NSS elaborates on democracy and American democratic principles and resilience, the US does not intend to impose democracy on other countries, they said.

The NSS "advances a principled realism that takes a clear eyed view of the threats that we face in an ever competitive world".

"In some ways the global balance of power has shifted in unfavourable manners to American interests," a senior official said. "This new strategy presents a plan (for) how American can regain momentum to reverse many of these trends, while recognising there are some very… new threats we have to have a strategy to address."

US law requires every administration to submit the NSS to Congress. No President had ever personally rolled it out, the officials told reporters, saying that this showed how invested the President was in the NSS, and how well he thought it reflected his priorities.

The NSS is the product of 11 months of work involving, among others, former generals James Mattis, and H.R. McMaster, who are Defence Secretary and National Security Advisor respectively; Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

They worked closely with the National Economic Council, focusing on why economic competitiveness was important to American national security, the officials said.