Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday delivered a long-awaited speech meant to outline the Biden administration’s China policy and called Beijing “the most serious long-term challenge” to the US-led “international order.”
Blinken maintained that China is the administration’s top priority despite all the support the US is giving to Ukraine in its fight against Russia. “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 the People’s Republic of China,” Blinken said at George Washington University.
Blinken said China is the top threat because it 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.”
The speech was meant to define Biden’s China policy, but Blinken mostly repeated accusations against Beijing that US officials have repeatedly made. Blinken also sent mixed messages by claiming the US doesn’t want a Cold War while also presenting Beijing as a major threat to the US-led global order that needs to be contained.
Blinken was scheduled to deliver the speech earlier this month, but it was rescheduled after he tested positive for Covid-19. Ahead of the speech, sources told Politico that Blinken wasn’t expected to say anything surprising and that Biden’s China policy would remain similar to the Trump administration’s.
Biden has continued Trump’s China policy by maintaining tariffs, increasing the US military presence in the South China Sea, and stepping up support for Taiwan. Both administrations emphasized the importance of building alliances in the Asia Pacific to counter China, prompting Biden to sign the AUKUS military pact with Britain and Australia.
Biden concluded his first trip to Asia as president this week where he announced new anti-China initiatives with the Quad and launched a new trade deal for the region, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). But those initiatives were overshadowed by the president pledging to intervene militarily if China invades Taiwan, which he later walked back.