Blinken’s long-awaited China policy address 'unexciting'
Speech describes China as ‘long-term challenge’ but says US wants no new Cold War
Published: May 27, 2022 01:28 AM
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks on China at Jack Morton Auditorium of George Washington University May 26, 2022 in Washington, DC. Photo: AFP

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: AFP

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a speech on the country's China strategy on Thursday, describing China as the "most serious long-term challenge to the international order" but stressed the US does not want a new Cold War. 

Experts said that the seemingly "soft" rhetoric cannot cover the truth that the US top envoy is using an "artificial argument" to cast China as a particularly "tough, big guy" that people cannot be messed with while the US is "a little poor."

That once again proves US officials' hypocrisy as the country has been using fine words but never stops doing the bad things, experts said. 

Even as the war rages in Ukraine, Blinken said that the US remains focused on China as the country has "become more repressive at home and more aggressive abroad."

Blinken made it clear that the US will shape the environment around Beijing with the approach being summed up in three words: invest in US competitiveness, align with allies and partners, and compete with China.  

The top US diplomat acknowledged that the US and China will have a pivotal role to play in the global economy. Blinken also called for more dialogue with Beijing in order to find solutions to the climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and other problems affecting all countries, insisting that Washington is "determined" to avoid "conflict or a new Cold War."

"Blinken's rhetoric is softer as expected as there have been signs recently. For example, in the so-called Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the US did not mention that it is targeted at China but emphasizes openness and inclusiveness," Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Thursday.

But it exactly shows the hypocrisy of the US as the country knows  that if it wants to lure ASEAN countries to its framework, it must weaken its tough attitude toward China as these countries do not want to take sides between China and the US, neither does the world want to see a new Cold War, Wang said.  

"We all know that any country should act based on the international order, but when the US says 'abiding by international rules,' it actually means China should abide by US rules," Wang said.  

The address, originally scheduled for May 5 but postponed because Blinken tested positive for COVID-19. It was also made after Biden came back from his Asia trip touting the China containment strategy and made a surprising remark on the Taiwan question, raising fears about the escalation of cross-Straits tensions as the US government is sending a dangerous message to China. 

The speech can be considered as collective efforts for mobilizing the US allies in focusing on strategic rivalry with China by portraying it as a rule-breaker that seeks a completely different goal from the US in global and regional governance, a Beijing-based expert on US-China relations told the Global Times on Thursday. 

In recent months, the US has been criticizing China for not condemning Russia for its military operations in Ukraine, using the Ukraine crisis to provoke China over the Taiwan question, as Biden recently said the US is ready for military intervention to "defend the island of Taiwan" but White House officials quickly walked back his remarks. 

Blinken reiterated that Washington's policy on Taiwan did not change and that the US will continue to pursue its "one China policy" guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three joint communiques and the six assurances. 

He also further accused China of changing its policy on the Taiwan question by cutting the island's opportunity to join in international organizations. 

It once again showed the US did not want to provoke China, Wang said. But the expert pointed out that Blinken is just playing words and he cannot hide the US attempt to hollow the one-China policy. 

Blinken's speech fully demonstrated the US decided to take a strategy that will not provoke China overly, a strategy of saying one thing while doing another, experts said. 

Blinken made the address when the US' capabilities have been widely doubted amid the Russia-Ukraine crisis. The US has been so far engaged in countering Russia politically and economically, without more effective measures, which led to more doubts about whether the US has the capability of containing China, Lü Xiang, research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Blinken expressed the country's willingness to cooperate with China, but its "unreasonable accusations" still showed that competition is the main topic of the speech, the expert said. 

The Biden administration has been facing growing domestic issues particularly the inflation and incompetence in handling the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Biden's public approval rating fell this week to 36 percent, the lowest level of his presidency, as Americans suffered from rising inflation, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll completed on Tuesday.

"The US needs to invest much of its energy in its transatlantic partnership. How will it affirm its commitment to the Indo-Pacific at the same time and will its Indo-Pacific strategy come into a reality? The US needs such an address to assure its allies," Lü said.