Coming just off President Joe Biden's Asia trip, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has told a George Washington University audience in a much anticipated China policy speech that the US is looking to avoid a "new Cold War" with China. But he further lambasted Beijing for undermining the global order while at the same time enriching itself at its expense.
"China’s transformation... was made possible by the stability and opportunity that the international order provides," Blinken said. "Arguably no country on Earth has benefited more from that than China." He continued: "But rather than using its power to reinforce and revitalize the laws, agreements, principles, and institutions that enabled its success, so other countries can benefit from them too, Beijing is undermining it."
However, we should note that this sounds exactly like the history of American foreign and economic policy as well, or most any powerful country that seeks to benefit itself first at others' expense. But here's where Blinken took aim at the particular architecture of Chinese oppression and malfeasance both at home and abroad:
"Under President Xi [Jinping], the ruling Chinese Communist Party has become more repressive at home and more aggressive abroad."
He stressed the Biden administration is working to "shape the strategic environment around Beijing to advance our vision for an open and inclusive international system." But in doing so Washington will seek to avoid "conflict or a new Cold War."
"We are not looking for conflict or a new Cold War. To the contrary, we’re determined to avoid both," he said.
On Taiwan, the US top diplomat said that China is engaged in "increasingly provocative rhetoric and activity" threatening the democratic island.
He also unveiled a new initiative at the State Department called "China House" - to be composed of team of diplomats across the agency tasked with coordinating American policy "to confront China on its global ambitions," as The Hill summarized.
"The scale and scope of the challenge posed by the People’s Republic of China will test American diplomacy like nothing we’ve seen before," Blinken said.
Sen. Romney in the audience today for Blinken’s big China speech — https://t.co/U8ZpjF1nsW— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) May 26, 2022
"I'm determined to give our Department and our diplomats the tools they need to meet this challenge head on, as part of my modernization agenda," Blinken said in describing China House.
"Even as 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."
#US officials says Blinken will make clear the US doesn’t seem to sever China from US or world economy, but wants #China to play by the rules.— EHA News (@eha_news) May 26, 2022
▪️US officials says Blinken will make clear the US will not compromise principles for cooperation with China.
-@DeItaone - pic.twitter.com/n3sS235QYQ
Marking an escalation and noticeable rhetoric shift in Washington's approach to China, Biden stressed the US will "invest, align, compete" with China on the global stage:
"We will invest in the foundations of our strength at home — our competitiveness, innovation, and democracy. We will align our efforts with our network of allies and partners, acting with common purpose and in common cause. And harnessing those two key assets, we will compete with China to defend our interests and build our vision for the future."
He said potential cooperation between Washington and Beijing "starts with climate". Additionally, coming off Biden's Asia trip where he just met with leaders of the Quad in Japan, Blinken said, "The US Indo-Pacific Economic Framework reasserts the US’ economic leadership, a dozen countries have already joined including India."
"We do not seek to transform China’s political system; we believe all countries should seek their own path," he said in the speech. "The lack of reciprocity in the US-China relationship, including market access, is unacceptable and unsustainable," he emphasized, while adding: "We’re not forcing countries to choose, we’re given them a choice." As "great powers" he stressed the US and China will cooperate where they are able on common interests that benefit a global rules-based order.