America may still be the world’s lone superpower, but it has lost its capacity to manage the challenge of a rising China.

So says Michael Pillsbury, the Mandarin-speaking former high-level U.S. official well known for staking out controversial — if often prescient — views on the future of U.S.-China competition.

Mr. Pillsbury, a prolific author and analyst who advised in some capacity every president since Richard Nixon, says the U.S. and China are so economically intertwined that the prospect of a major clash remains low.

But U.S. administrations of both parties have thus far failed to confront the reality of Beijing‘s thirst for power and global influence. That was the core message Mr. Pillsbury delivered Wednesday at “The Washington Brief,” a virtual panel event hosted by The Washington Times Foundation.

“Do we have the capacity as a country, as a government, to manage China at all anymore?” Mr. Pillsbury asked during the event broadcast online on Tuesday.

“I would argue we do not,” he said, asserting that Washington currently is consumed by a hamstringing debate over China policy and the extent to which the Chinese government seeks to challenge or overtake America on the global stage.

As a result, Mr. Pillsbury said, Washington has limited itself to engaging in “pinpricks” aimed at constraining China, most recently with the Biden administration’s decision to stage a “diplomatic boycott” of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing to protest China‘s human rights record.