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WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday is set to describe China as the “most serious long-term challenge to the international order,” even as the world grapples with Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“China 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,” Blinken is expected to say in a speech at George Washington University, according to excerpts released by the State Department.
“Beijing’s vision would move us away from the universal values that have sustained so much of the world’s progress over the past 75 years,” Blinken is set to say.
The speech which will outline the Biden administration’s policy toward China comes as the U.S. warns Beijing to not help Moscow blunt global sanctions for the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. It also follows a Biden administration effort to walk back his comment that the U.S. was willing to use its military to defend Taiwan, which angered Beijing.
The top U.S. diplomat is expected to acknowledge that the U.S. and China will have a pivotal role to play in the global economy and the fight against climate change in one of the most “complex and consequential relationships” the U.S. has with any country. As the world’s two largest economies will have to deal with each other “for the foreseeable future,” the U.S. wants to avoid “conflict or a new Cold War,” he is set to say.
“We don’t seek to block China from its role as a major power, nor to stop China – or any country – from growing their economy or advancing the interests of their people,” Blinken is expected to say.
Tensions between Beijing and Washington soared during the Trump administration. Former President Donald Trump placed blame squarely on China for a wide range of grievances, including intellectual property theft, unfair trade practices and the coronavirus pandemic.
President Joe Biden has previously said that his administration is ready for “extreme competition” with China but that his approach would be different than his predecessor. He has also placed greater emphasis on working more closely with allies in order to push back against China — rather than taking steps to counter Beijing alone.
“We will confront China’s economic abuses,” Biden said during his first visit to the State Department in February. “But we’re also ready to work with Beijing when it’s in America’s interest to do so. We’ll compete from a position of strength by building back better at home and working with our allies and partners,” he added.
The president has also said that during his political career he has spent more time with China’s Xi Jinping than any other world leader.