In April, Kiron Skinner, until recently head of policy planning in the US State Department and a successor to the legendary George F. Kennan, architect of America’s Cold War strategy of containment, described US relations with China as “a fight with a really different civilisation” and the “first time we will have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian”.
Her critics, understandably, piled on. Had she forgotten whose aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor? What did race have to do with great power competition? Didn’t the Marxism–Leninism of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) emerge from Western roots?