China poses ‘biggest geopolitical test’ for the U.S., Secretary of State Blinken says

July 24, 2021

China is the only country with enough power to jeopardize the current global order, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a speech Wednesday

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday China represented America’s “biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century,” saying the Asian nation was the only country with enough power to jeopardize the current international order.

“Our relationship with China will be competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be. And we will engage China from a position of strength,” Blinken said in a speech laying out the Biden administration’s foreign policy vision.


“China is the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system — all the rules, values and relationships that make the world work the way we want it to,” said Blinken, who delivered his address at the State Department.

Seeking to draw a contrast with the previous administration, which had a skeptical view of multilateral organizations and clashed with a number of allies, Blinken said tackling the challenge posed by China would require cooperating with international organizations and working with allies and partners, “not denigrating them.”

He also said the Biden administration would call out China for human rights abuses, including a crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and against Uighurs in Xinjiang.

On trade, the administration will invest in American workers and companies and insist on a “level playing field,” because “when we do, we can out-compete anyone,” Blinken said

At a congressional hearing later Wednesday, President Joe Biden’s nominee for deputy secretary of state, Wendy Sherman, reinforced Blinken’s language on China, saying the United States had to safeguard its trade secrets.

“We have to compete and win. That includes ensuring that China cannot hack our networks, cannot steal our trade secrets, cannot steal our corporate secrets,” she said.

But despite the implied criticism of former President Donald Trump’s approach to allies and global organizations, Blinken’s portrayal of China as America’s most powerful adversary and competitor resembled the view often articulated by officials in the previous administration. His language also reflected a growing bipartisan consensus in Washington about the threat posed by China.

China was the only country Blinken singled out as a focus in a speech that listed eight priorities for U.S. diplomacy, including battling the Covid-19 pandemic, promoting a more stable and inclusive global economy, confronting climate change, securing U.S. leadership in technology, reforming the immigration system, bolstering alliances and renewing democratic values.


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