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U.S. focused on ‘serious’ Chinese threat to global order, says Blinken

Secretary of State Antony Blinken

By MARRIAN ZHOU, Nikkei staff writer

 

NEW YORK — The U.S. is committed to taking on the long-term threat China poses to the international order, even as the war in Ukraine draws global attention, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday in a speech laying out President Joe Biden’s policy toward Beijing.

 

“Even as President Putin’s war continues, we will remain focused on the most serious long-term challenge to the international order, and that’s posed by [China],” said Blinken at the Asia Society Policy Institute in Washington.

 

“China’s 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 added.

 

“To the contrary, we’re determined to avoid both,” said Blinken. “We don’t seek to block China from its role as a major power, nor to stop China or any other country for that matter, from growing their economy or advancing the interests of their people.”

 

China owes its progress in part to the “stability and opportunity” the international order has provided, Blinken said, but rather than trying to revitalize the “institutions that enabled its success,” Beijing is “undermining them.”

 

“We cannot rely on Beijing to change its trajectory. So we will shape the strategic environment around Beijing to advance our vision for an open, inclusive international system.”

 

To achieve that end, Blinken laid out a three-part strategy — invest, align and compete.

 

This means the Biden administration will focus on investing in “our core sources of national strength,” including infrastructure, supply chain, research, innovation and education. Especially on technology, Blinken said the U.S. needs to lead not only in developing new technologies, but also to shape how they are used around the world. 

 

“There is growing convergence about the need to approach relations with Beijing with more realism,” said Blinken. “Many of our partners already know from painful experience, how Beijing can come down hard when they make choices that it dislikes,” he said citing its retaliatory trade practices against Australia as an example. 

 

As part of “alignment,” the U.S. will work closely with Asian and European allies, especially the three other Quad members of Australia, Japan and India. The Biden administration will continue to develop the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, designed to address issues like the digital economy, supply chains and clean energy.

 

Blinken added the U.S. is “well-positioned” to outcompete China in key sectors. The U.S. will step up security to make sure technologies stay in the U.S., including stricter investment screening in private sectors. 

 

“We expect the business community to understand that the pricing admission to China’s market must not be the sacrifice of our core values or long-term competitive and technological advantages,” said Blinken.

 

On Taiwan, he said U.S. policy toward the island has not changed, adding that it is committed to its One China policy. “We oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side.”

 

The U.S. will continue to assist Taiwan to maintain “sufficient self-defense capability” and cooperate with Taiwan on shared interests.

 

During his visit to Japan, Biden answered “yes” when asked if the U.S. would intervene militarily should China attack Taiwan, contradicting Washington’s decadeslong policy of “strategic ambiguity’ and setting off speculation about a policy shift.

 

Blinken said the State Department is launching a “China House,” consisting of a team of diplomats to coordinate U.S. policy on China.

In the wake of rising anti-Asian hate incidents, Blinken said Chinese students are welcome to study and stay in the U.S. He emphasized the importance of attracting top talent to the U.S.

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