Blinken lays out Washington’s ‘invest, align, compete’ strategy to meet China challenge

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Blinken lays out Washington’s ‘invest, align, compete’ strategy to meet China challenge U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlines the Biden administration's policy toward China during a speech at an event hosted by the Asia Society at George Washington University, in Washington, May 26, 2022.

The United States will invest at home, align efforts with allies and partners, and compete with China to counter Beijing’s drive to change the existing rules-based world order, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday in a speech laying out the Biden administration’s threefold strategy toward the Asian superpower.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Asia Society at George Washington University in Washington, the top American diplomat vowed that the U.S. would “defend and strengthen” international law, principles and institutions which, he argued, China was undermining. But neither is the Biden administration looking to become embroiled in conflict with the world’s most populous nation, Blinken said.

“To succeed in this decisive decade, the Biden Administration’s strategy can be summed up in three words – invest, align, compete,” Blinken said.

“The foundations of the international order are under serious and sustained challenge,” he told the audience at GWU.

He cited Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as posing a “clear and present threat, and China as a long-term challenge.”

“Even as President Putin’s war continues, we 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.

“China is the only country with the intent to reshape the international order and increasingly the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to do it,” Blinken said.

Blinken delivered the speech days after President Joe Biden returned from his first visit to Asia since taking office in January 2021.

Biden visited U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, where he unveiled the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) which 13 other nations signed up to with hopes that it would lead to a free trade agreement in the future.

Biden also attended a summit of the Quad, an Indo-Pacific security grouping of Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. that is widely seen as countering China’s rising influence and assertiveness in the region.

Cooperation with China is necessary for the global economy and solving issues such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, Blinken said, emphasizing that the U.S. was not looking for conflict or a new Cold War.

“To the contrary, we are determined to avoid both,” he said, adding that the U.S. was not seeking to block China or any other nation from growing economically or advancing the interest of their people.

“But we will defend and strengthen international law, agreements, principals and institutions that maintain peace and security, protect the rights of individuals and sovereign nations, and make it possible for all countries, including the United States and China, to coexist and cooperate,” Blinken said.

Though China’s rise was possible because of the stability and opportunity that the international order provides, the country is now seeking to undermine those rules, he said.

In his 40-minute talk, Blinken touched on hot-button issues such as the contested South China Sea and China’s treatment of the Uyghur ethnic minority in Xinjiang, where Beijing’s heavy-handed policies have been branded as genocide by the U.S. and other Western nations.

“Under Xi Jinping, the ruling Chinese Communist Party [has] become more repressive at home and more aggressive abroad,” he said.

“We’ll continue to oppose Beijing’s aggressive and unlawful activities in the South and East China Seas,” he said, noting a 2016 international court ruling that found Beijing’s expansive claims in those waters “have no basis in international law.”

This report was produced by Radio Free Asia (RFA), an online news service affiliated with BenarNews.


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