Blinken says US is ready to increase diplomacy with China at ‘this busy time in the world’

In a lengthy speech Thursday at George Washington University, the top U.S. diplomat described the administration’s approach as “invest, align, compete” and said that while the U.S. does not seek to come into conflict with China, they are ready to defend their interests.

“We will invest in the foundations of our strength at home – our competitiveness, our innovation, our democracy. We will align our efforts with our network of allies and partners, acting with a common purpose and in a common cause. two active key elements, we will compete with China to defend our interests and build our vision for the future,” Blinken said.

The speech comes as much of the attention of the United States – and the global community – has turned to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Blinken pointed to “Beijing’s defense of President Putin’s war to erase Ukraine’s sovereignty and secure a sphere of influence in Europe,” saying it “should sound alarm bells for all of us who inhabit the Indo-Pacific region,” and more broadly underscored the importance of focusing on the threats he believes the Chinese government poses to the world even as the war in Ukraine continues.

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

Blinken’s roughly 40-minute speech was intended to highlight how the Washington-Beijing relationship is “one of the most complex and consequential of any relationship we have in the world today.”

While he described broadly how the United States intended to approach this relationship, he drew sharp distinctions between the two nations, describing things like China’s “repressive” government, unfair trade practices and violations of human rights. human rights.

However, the top US diplomat also repeatedly stressed that the United States does not seek to thwart China as a world power or change its political system, nor to oppose it.

“We are not looking for conflict or a new Cold War. On the contrary, we are determined to avoid both,” Blinken said.

He said the United States stands ready to strengthen diplomacy and increase communication with China “on a range of issues,” and is ready to work together on issues of mutual interest like climate change and Covid. -19, noting that “even though we invest, align and compete, or with Beijing, where our interests intersect.”

“We cannot let the disagreements that divide us keep us from moving forward on priorities that require us to work together for the good of our people and for the good of the world,” he said.

Blinken noted that “this is a busy time for the world”.

“And in times like these, diplomacy is vital,” said the top US diplomat. “This is how we clarify our deepest concerns, better understand each other’s point of view and have no doubts about each other’s intentions.”

“We are ready to increase our direct communication with Beijing on a whole range of issues. And we hope that can happen,” he continued.

New team from the State Department China

In an attempt to foster this diplomacy, Blinken said he was determined to give the State Department the necessary tools, including “building a ‘China House,’ an integrated team across of the department that will coordinate and implement our policy across issues and regions, working with Congress as necessary.”

“We remain committed to intense diplomacy, alongside intense competition,” he said.

However, Blinken also warned, “we cannot rely on Beijing to change its course. We will therefore shape the strategic environment around Beijing to advance our vision of an open and inclusive international system.”

“We do not seek to prevent China from playing its role as a great power, nor to prevent China – or any country for that matter – from developing its economy or advancing the interests of its people. But we will defend and strengthen the international law, agreements, principles, and institutions that maintain peace and security, protect the rights of individuals and sovereign nations, and enable all countries, including the United States and China, to coexist and to cooperate,” Blinken said.

In Taiwan, the top US diplomat again stressed that US policy towards the island over which China claims sovereignty has not changed, despite President Joe Biden’s comments last week that the US would respond militarily if Beijing attacked Taiwan.

“We oppose any unilateral change to the status quo on either side. We do not support Taiwan independence and expect cross-strait differences to be resolved through peaceful means,” Blinken said. .

However, Blinken noted that “although our policy has not changed, what has changed is Beijing’s increasing coercion, such as trying to cut off Taiwan’s relations with countries around the world and preventing it from participate in international organizations, and Beijing is engaged in increasingly provocative rhetoric and activities, such as flying PLA planes near Taiwan almost daily.”

“These words and actions are deeply destabilizing. They risk being miscalculated and threaten the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait. As we have seen in the President’s talks with allies and partners in the Indo – Pacific, maintaining peace and stability across the street is not just a US interest, it is a matter of international concern, critical to regional and global security and prosperity. »

The top US diplomat also stressed the importance of ensuring that, while tensions between Washington and Beijing remain high, the anger does not focus on Chinese people or those of Chinese descent in the United States.

“We also know from our history that when we manage a difficult relationship with another government, people of that country or that heritage may feel like they don’t belong here, or that they are our adversaries. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.

“Mistreating someone of Chinese descent goes against everything we stand for as a country,” Blinken continued, noting that “the differences are between governments and systems, not between our people.”

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