Blinken: US to leverage Russia-Ukraine bloc against China

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday that the Biden administration aims to lead the international bloc opposed to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in a broader coalition to counter what he sees as a more serious and long-term threat to China’s world order.

In a speech outlining the administration’s China policy, Blinken laid out a three-pillar approach to competing with Beijing in a race to define the economic and military balance of the 21st century.

While the United States views Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine as the most acute and immediate threat to international stability, Blinken said the administration believes China poses a greater danger. .

“Even if 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,” Blinken said.

“China is the only country with both the intention to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military and technological might to do so,” he said. “Beijing’s vision would take us away from the universal values ​​that have underpinned so much progress in the world over the past 75 years.”

So Blinken laid out principles for the administration to pull together its resources, friends and allies to push back against China’s growing assertiveness in the world. Although he made it clear that the United States was not seeking to change China’s political system, rather it wanted to offer a proven alternative.

“It’s not about forcing countries to choose, it’s about giving them the choice,” he said.

However, he also acknowledged that the United States has a limited ability to directly influence China’s intentions and ambitions and will instead focus on shaping the strategic environment around China.

“We can’t rely on Beijing to change its course,” Blinken said in the speech at George Washington University. “We will therefore shape the strategic environment around Beijing to advance our vision of an open and inclusive international system.”

Blinken’s speech was delivered overnight in China, and there was no immediate reaction to the speech from the Chinese Embassy in Washington.

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The speech follows President Joe Biden’s just concluded visits to South Korea and Japan., where China figured prominently in the discussions. Biden raised eyebrows on trip when he said US would act militarily to help Taiwan defend itself in case of invasion by China, which considers the island as a renegade province.

The administration was quick to insist that Biden was not changing US policy, and Blinken reaffirmed that the United States had not changed its position. Blinken said Washington still sticks to its “One China” policywhich recognizes Beijing but allows unofficial ties and arms sales with Taipei.

“Our approach has been consistent across decades and jurisdictions. The United States remains committed to our “One China” policy. We oppose any unilateral change to the status quo on either side,” he said, adding that “we do not support Taiwan independence.”

Blinken said that while US policy towards Taiwan has remained constant, China’s has become increasingly belligerent.

He argued that the global response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine can serve as a blueprint for dealing with China’s efforts to shape an unpredictable new world order to replace the rules and institutions that have guided relations. between states since the end of World War II. .

China, Blinken said, has benefited greatly from this international order but is now trying to overthrow it under the leadership of President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party.

“Rather than using its power to strengthen and revitalize the laws, agreements, principles and institutions that enabled its success, so that other countries can also benefit, Beijing is undermining it,” Blinken said. “Under President Xi, the ruling Chinese Communist Party has become more repressive at home and more aggressive abroad.”

Yet Blinken also denounced the rise of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian hate crimes. in the United States, claiming that Chinese Americans and other Asian Americans have the same right to the United States as any other immigrant or their descendants.

Investment in infrastructure and technology in the United States as well as stepping up diplomatic relations with potentially vulnerable countries are other elements of the policy and are key to the US approach, Blinken said.

In the latest show of China’s efforts to expand its reach that has raised concern in the United States and other democracies, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi kicked off a tour of eight Pacific island countries on Thursday. during which Beijing hopes to strike a comprehensive deal covering everything from security to fisheries.

Wang opened his tour in the Solomon Islands, which last month signed a security cooperation pact with China that some fears could lead to a Chinese military presence there. The deal was finalized shortly after the Biden administration announced it would open a US embassy in the Solomons. as part of its efforts to engage in the greater Indo-Pacific region.

The Biden administration has largely kept in place confrontational China policies adopted by its predecessor in response to Chinese actions in its western region of Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Tibet and the South China Sea.

And, while the administration sees areas of work with Beijing, such as tackling climate change, it won’t trade cooperation for compromise on its human rights and rule of law principles. , Blinken said.

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