Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday the Biden administration aims to lead the international bloc opposed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine into a broader coalition to counter what it sees as a more serious, long-term threat to global order from China.
In a speech outlining the administration’s China policy, Mr. Blinken laid out a three-pillar approach to competing with Beijing in a race to define the 21st century’s economic and military balance.
While the U.S. sees Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine as the most acute and immediate threat to international stability, Mr. Blinken said the administration believes China poses a greater danger.
‘Threat to global order’
“Even as President Putin’s war continues, we will remain focused on the most serious long-term challenge to the international order — and that is the one posed by the People’s Republic of China,” Mr. Blinken said.
“China is the only country with both the intent to reshape the international order — and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do it,” he said. “Beijing’s vision would move us away from the universal values that have sustained so much of the world’s progress over the past 75 years.”
Thus, Mr. Blinken laid out principles for the administration to marshal its resources, friends and allies to push back on increasing Chinese assertiveness around the world. Although he made clear that the U.S. does not seek to change China’s political system. “This is not about forcing countries to choose, it’s about giving them a choice,” he said.
However, he also acknowledged that the U.S. has limited ability to directly influence China’s ambitions and will instead focus on shaping the strategic environment around China.
“We can’t rely on Beijing to change its trajectory,” Mr. Blinken said in the speech, delivered at George Washington University. “So we will shape the strategic environment around Beijing to advance our vision for an open and inclusive international system.”
The speech followed President Joe Biden’s just-concluded visits to South Korea and Japan. Mr. Biden raised eyebrows during that trip when he said that the U.S. would act militarily to help Taiwan defend itself in the event of an invasion by China.
Position on Taiwan
The administration scrambled to insist that Mr. Biden was not changing American policy, and Mr. Blinken restated that the U.S. has not changed its position. Mr. Blinken said Washington still holds to its “One China” policy, which recognises Beijing but allows for unofficial links with and arms sales to Taipei.
“Our approach has been consistent across decades and administrations. The United States remains committed to our ‘One China’ policy. We oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side,” he said, adding that “we do not support Taiwan independence.”
Mr. Blinken said that while U.S. policy on Taiwan has remained consistent, China’s had become increasingly belligerent.
He made the case that the global response to Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine can serve as a template for dealing with China’s efforts to mold a new and unpredictable world order to replace the rules and institutions that have guided relations between states since the end of Second World War.
China, Mr. Blinken said, has benefited greatly from that international order but is now trying to subvert it under the leadership of President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party.
Mr. Blinken also decried the rise in anti-Chinese and anti-Asian hate crimes in the U.S., saying Chinese Americans and other Asian Americans have the same claim to the U.S. as any other immigrants or their descendants.