Blinken: Biden administration’s China policy does not seek to end communism

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Thursday that the Biden administration’s China policy calls for diplomatic and economic competition but will not seek to replace the increasingly aggressive Chinese regime.

“We’re not looking for conflict or a new Cold War,” Blinken said in a long-awaited speech in Washington detailing the administration’s strategy to counter Beijing’s growing influence and increasingly aggressive posture on the world stage.

President Biden has so far retained elements of the previous Trump administration’s China policy, acknowledging for the first time in decades that Beijing is working to undermine the U.S.-led democratic and free-market system.

However, the approach outlined by Mr. Blinken on Thursday was markedly less confrontational than the one pursued by President Trump, with some critics saying the secretary’s overarching prescription for countering China’s efforts to achieve global hegemony is unrealistic.

Speaking at George Washington University, Blinken said the United States would not prevent China from developing its economy, but would instead promote international law and work closely with allies in pursuit of American-style democracy and human rights.

“We do not seek to prevent China from functioning as a great power, nor do we prevent China — or any other country — for that matter — from developing its economy or advancing the interests of its people,” the secretary of state said.

“But we will defend and strengthen the international laws, agreements, principles and institutions that maintain peace and security, protect the rights of individuals and sovereign nations, and enable all nations, including the United States and China, to coexist and cooperate.”

Despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mr Blinken said China remained the most serious long-term challenge facing the United States and a looming military threat.

Fifty years ago, China was a weak and isolated power, but now it has become a global power with a rapidly modernizing military that is seeking to build a sphere of influence and eventually replace the United States as the world’s leading power, he said.

“We will work to shape the strategic environment around Beijing to advance our vision for an open and inclusive international system,” Blinken said.

He described a three-pronged policy calling for investment in U.S. infrastructure and democracy; closer alignment with allies and partners; and direct competition with Beijing by promoting democracy and strengthening U.S. forces to deter conflict.

Growing China Threat

The secretary of state listed a range of threats posed by China, including exporting its communist system and high-tech mass surveillance structures, violating trade rules and stealing American technology, genocide in western China and undermining democracy in Hong Kong.

“under [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping]the ruling Chinese Communist Party is more repressive at home and more aggressive abroad,” Blinken said.

Xi’s support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “should also be a wake-up call for all of us,” he said.

Despite China’s efforts to push its communist system to replace the current democratic and free-market system, Blinken said the United States would not seek to replace China’s communist rule. “We are not seeking to change China’s political system,” he said.

The comments reflect one of several key demands Chinese officials made to Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman at a meeting in China in August. The Chinese insisted at the meeting that any improvement in U.S.-China relations must include a U.S. commitment not to undermine China’s communist system.

During the Trump administration, the State Department imposed sanctions and policies against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in an attempt to identify the differences between the ruling CCP and the Chinese people.

Militarily, a Biden administration would seek to maintain peace in Asia by shifting U.S. strategy away from making weapons unsuitable for deterring conflict with China.

Mr Blinken said the Pentagon would develop asymmetric weapons with “longer ranges, harder to find and easier to move”, adding that the military was using new force concepts to wage war and new ways to diversify forces and global deployment. systems, such as space weapons.

The U.S. military will also continue to counter China’s military efforts to control the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

Focus on Taiwan

On the Taiwan issue, Blinken said the U.S. policy has not changed, which is based on providing Taiwan with defensive weapons to prevent a Chinese military attack.

“We oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo across the Taiwan Strait,” the secretary of state said, and expects all issues to be resolved peacefully.

Biden appeared to reverse long-standing U.S. policy toward Taiwan during his recent trip to Asia. Asked by reporters during the visit whether the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily, Biden said: “Yes. That’s a promise we made.” The White House sought to retract the remarks, saying it did not represent a new policy.

Mr. Blinken said on Thursday that the United States would remain resistant to any resort to force or other forms of coercion to undermine Taiwan’s security or institutions.

Cooperation with Taiwan, described by the secretary of state as a vibrant democracy and a leading regional economy, will continue to expand.

He said China has stepped up its provocative coercion against Taiwan, conducted regular warplanes incursions into Taiwan’s air defense zone, and worked to undermine Taiwan’s diplomatic relations with countries around the world.

“These words and deeds are seriously destabilizing and risk miscalculation. They risk miscalculation and threaten peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Blinken said.

He also criticized China for a lack of reciprocity, allowing Chinese companies and media organizations to operate freely in the U.S. while their U.S. counterparts were restricted in China.

Mr Blinken said China was an integral part of the global economy and could help tackle issues such as climate change and the pandemic.

However, Beijing has repeatedly denied U.S. efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions, pledging instead to reduce emissions levels within decades. China also continues to block international cooperation to pinpoint the origins of the COVID-19 virus that began in Wuhan, China.

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the policy speech.

Critics slap ‘Chamberlain-style’ speeches

Critics said the speech contained some positive elements but fell short in addressing the threat posed by China.

Jim Fanell, a retired Navy captain and former director of intelligence for the Pacific Fleet, said Blinken underestimated the dangers of the Chinese Communist Party’s stated goal of world domination and supplanting the United States.

“While Secretary Blinken spoke eloquently about the importance of US diplomacy, engagement with China and even new investment, alliances and competition policies, hard power was rarely discussed,” Mr Fanell said.

Fanell said the secretary of state said a new Indo-Pacific maritime awareness information-sharing program would track illegal fishing, but made no mention of tracking the expanding operations of the Chinese navy.

He added: “The most worrying thing is that China built more than 350 nuclear ICBM silos in central and western China last year, and the secretary made no mention of China’s ‘nuclear breakthrough’.”

Referring to former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who notoriously underestimated the threat posed by Nazi Germany, Mr Farnell described Mr Blinken’s speech as “Chamberlain-like in tone and tenor, with a lack of preparation and a Churchillian for defeating an opponent. determination. Seek the destruction of America.”

A former State Department official in the Trump administration said the speech appeared to support some of the previous administration’s efforts to adjust U.S. policy toward China, but failed to provide a solution.

A positive feature is Mr. Blinken’s efforts to make a clear distinction between the Chinese government and the Chinese people — an effort Mr. Trump has also made.

“Mr. Blinken has rightly identified China as a long-term threat in terms of intent and capabilities,” said the former State Department official, speaking in background as the administration continues to work.

“While the vision strongly identifies China as a long-term problem, the speech is very weak and even wrong in offering solutions,” the former official said.

“Ultimately, Mr. Blinken wants to play with China, but will China play fair with the U.S. as he wants? It’s very weak,” the former official said.

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