Competitive Strategy in a Changing International Landscape 9 amounts of U.S. debt, only second to Japan.36 Yet, Chinese investment in the United States, and vice versa, is not as significant when compared with other investing partners. While the United States and China have extensive trade relations, our European allies are even more entangled with Chinese trade and investment.37 Similarly, while the United States is now a net energy exporter, its European allies are dependent upon Rus- sia for energy. Russia is also a major supplier of key commodities, such as nickel, that are needed for clean energy ­technology.38 The developing world (especially sub-Saharan Africa) is also heavily dependent upon Russia for agricultural products, which might limit their willingness to side too closely with the United States.39 On the other hand, China is also dependent upon Russia and the Middle East for its energy. While U.S. close relations with Israel and the Arab Gulf could give the United States some leverage in deterring Chinese aggression elsewhere, a broader col- lective approach is needed to address issues such as the conflict in Ukraine and prevent global famine and instability. While more interdependent with China than it ever was with the Soviet Union, the United States faces rigorous competition from China.40 ­ Taiwan is a great example of that competition as it is a long-time democratic ally of the United States but is considered by China to be an integral part of its country. In a 2021 speech commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping stated that “solving the Taiwan question and realizing the complete reunification of the motherland are the unswerving historical tasks of the Chinese Communist Party and the common aspiration of all Chinese people.”41 Meanwhile the United States has an ambiguous commitment to defend Taiwan,42 giving Beijing a natu- ral advantage of escalation dominance given the asymmetry of interests involved. Nonetheless, if the United States failed to support Taiwan in the event of a major attack or invasion, it would suffer a potential significant setback to its influence in the region and the democratic ideals for which it stands.43 Such an attack could also represent a severe blow to the United States and global economy.44 While China is the major long-term challenge facing the United States, the United States is still vulnerable to competition from a declining yet remarkably assertive and nuclear-armed Russia. The invasion of Ukraine in 2022 exemplifies that competition. At the time of writing, the United States confronts a very realistic prospect of being drawn into unwanted conflicts in two critical areas at the same time: Ukraine and Taiwan. Of course, the U.S. commitment to Ukraine is slightly more ambiguous as Ukraine is not yet a NATO member.45 While aggressively seeking to bolster Ukrai- nian military capabilities through the provision of weapons and material, the United States and its allies have been extremely careful to avoid any actions (like establishing a No-Fly Zone) that could lead to a direct U.S. or NATO confrontation with Russian forces. Such a confrontation could
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