WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Thursday that despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China remains the biggest challenger to the United States and its allies, and that the Biden administration is seeking to limit “the strategic environment” surrounding the Asian superpower. are increasingly aggressive actions.
“China is the only country with both the intention to reform the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to do so,” Mr Blinken said in a speech explaining the strategy of the government to China. “Beijing’s vision would take us away from the universal values that have underpinned so much of the world’s progress for the past 75 years.”
The speech was a much shorter, public version of the government’s secret strategy on China, which was largely completed last fall. US officials have concluded that decades of direct economic and diplomatic engagement to force the Chinese Communist Party to abide by the American-led order has largely failed, and Mr Blinken argued that the goal should now be to form coalitions with other nations to leverage the party’s influence and try to curb its power. aggression that way.
“We cannot rely on Beijing to change course,” he said. “So we will shape the strategic environment around Beijing to advance our vision for an open and inclusive international system.”
China’s statements before and during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have further clarified the difficulties for US and European officials to engage with Beijing. On February 4, two weeks before the invasion, President Vladimir V. Putin met with President Xi Jinping in Beijing when their two governments issued a 5,000-word statement announcing a “no borders” partnership that aims to oppose the international diplomatic and economic systems overseen by the United States and its allies. Since the start of the war, the Chinese government has provided strong diplomatic support to Russia by reiterating Mr Putin’s criticism of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and by spreading disinformation and conspiracy theories that undermine the United States and Ukraine.
Read more about Biden’s trip to Asia
In his speech delivered at George Washington University on the theme of “Investing, Aligning and Competing,” Mr. Blinken pointed to the human rights violations, the repression of ethnic minorities and the suppression of freedom of expression and assembly in the Xinjiang, Tibet regions and Hong Kong. In recent years, these issues have fueled increased enthusiasm for China among Democratic and Republican politicians and policymakers. “We will continue to address these issues and call for change,” he said.
Mr Blinken reiterated long-standing US policy toward Taiwan, despite President Biden’s remarks in Tokyo on Monday that the United States had a “commitment” to become militarily involved in the defense of Taiwan if China conquers the self-governing democratic island. attacks. The US government has pursued a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan for decades, and has declined to say whether it would defend the island directly against China. Mr Blinken said it was China’s recent actions against Taiwan — for example, trying to sever the island’s diplomatic and international ties and send fighter jets over the area — that were “deeply destabilizing”.
But Mr Blinken stressed that despite mounting concerns, the United States was not looking for another Cold War and would not try to isolate China, the world’s second largest economy. He reiterated a point Mr. Biden and his national security officials have made since Mr. Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign — that there are areas of cooperation with China, including climate change, health security and the global economy.
Mr Blinken attributed China’s growth to the talent and hard work of the Chinese people, as well as to the stability and opportunity of the world trade and diplomacy rules created and shaped by the United States in what Washington calls the International Order . “Undoubtedly no country in the world has benefited more than China,” he said. “But instead of using its power to strengthen and revive the laws, agreements, principles and institutions that made its success possible, so that other countries can also benefit from it, Beijing is undermining it.”
Following China’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001, which was supported by the United States, leaders in Beijing made sweeping changes to the country’s planned economy in order to open up further to outside trade and investment, thereby transformed from one of the world’s largest poorest countries into their largest factory center, lifting hundreds of millions of people into the global middle class. But China was far from becoming the free-market democracy that many in the West had hoped for, and over the past decade the Communist Party and the Chinese state under Mr Xi have exerted an even stronger hand on the private market and individual freedoms. †
Democrats and Republicans alike see China’s business practices, including the government’s creation of heavily subsidized national champions and acceptance of intellectual property theft, as one of the biggest factors undermining US industry.
During Mr Biden’s visit to Tokyo this week, the Biden administration introduced one of its key elements in efforts to shape the economic environment around China – the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. The United States and 12 Asian countries will seek to negotiate new agreements to create more resilient supply chains, establish new rules on how electronic data is shared and stored, reduce industry-wide greenhouse gas emissions and bureaucratic barriers that hinder trade. impede removal, among other proposals .
But skeptics have said Washington’s ability to shape trade in the Asia-Pacific region may be limited, because the framework isn’t a traditional trade deal that offers countries cuts in tariffs and greater access to the lucrative US market.
The Obama administration had proposed such an agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Mr Biden had backed it. But some Democrats and Republicans in Congress who were concerned about the potential to send more jobs abroad have opposed it. President Donald J. Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement, although other Asian countries went ahead with it, and China has since applied to join the agreement.