Blinken seeks China in international order, no 'Cold War'

By: AFP
Published: 09:51 PM, 26 May, 2022
Blinken seeks China in international order, no 'Cold War'
Caption: Blinken seeks China in international order, no 'Cold War'.
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Thursday for vigorous competition with China to preserve the existing global order but said the United States did not seek a "Cold War."

In a long-awaited speech billed as the most comprehensive remarks to date on China by President Joe Biden's administration, Blinken said that Beijing posed "the most serious long-term challenge to the internation order" despite months of US focus on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"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," Blinken said in a speech at George Washington University, according to excerpts.

"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," he said.

"President Biden believes this decade will be decisive. The actions we take at home and with countries worldwide will determine whether our shared vision of the future will be realized."

Blinken acknowledged a growing consensus that the United States cannot change China's trajectory, with President Xi Jinping taking an increasingly assertive stance both at home and abroad.

"So we will shape the strategic environment around Beijing to advance our vision for an open and inclusive international system."

No Cold War

With no rhetorical bombast or surprises, Blinken drew an implicit contrast to the approach of the previous administration of Donald Trump which spoke in stark terms of an all-out global conflict with China.

Blinken, who on trips to Africa and Latin America has sought to downplay competition with China, did not ask nations to choose sides.

"We aren't looking for conflict or a new Cold War. To the contrary, we're determined to avoid both," Blinken said.

"We don't seek to block China from its role as a major power, nor to stop China -- or any country – from growing their economy or advancing the interests of their people," he said.

But he said that defense of a global order, including international law and agreements, would "make it possible for all countries -- including the United States and China -- to coexist and cooperate."

Biden administration officials point to work with China on climate change, with the world's two largest emitters meeting ahead of last year's summit in Glasgow.

Such areas of collaboration have prompted criticism in some quarters of the United States, where polls show a sharp deterioration in opinions of China in the past several years.

The United States has worked with China despite accusing Beijing of carrying out an ongoing genocide in its western region of Xinjiang, where more than one million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking people have been incarcerated.

Refocusing on Asia

Saying that China will "test American diplomacy like nothing we've seen before," Blinken announced the formation of a "China House" inside the State Department to coordinate policy across regions.

Blinken's speech -- delayed from earlier this month after he tested positive for Covid-19 -- was the latest attempt by the Biden administration to show it is focused on Asia despite the Ukraine war.

Biden this month visited allies Japan and South Korea and invited leaders from Southeast Asia for a first-of-a-kind summit in Washington.

The speech comes days after Biden made waves at a Tokyo news conference by saying the United States would militarily defend Taiwan, the self-governing democracy claimed by Beijing.

Officials said Blinken would repeat Biden's later insistence that he was not deviating from longstanding US policy on Taiwan.

The United States switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. It provides Taiwan weapons for self-defense, all while staying deliberately ambiguous on whether it would intervene militarily in an invasion.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.