One cannot help but wonder if the desire to ‘bring Russia to its knees’ via Ukraine has anything to do with long-term plans to start a war with China.
Photo: 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
27 May 2022 | Global Times
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday gave a speech on US policy toward China at George Washington University. The speech was just a summary of old clichés to show the Biden administration’s assertiveness to outcompete China while enhancing the campaign to stigmatize Beijing despite a seemingly softer rhetoric.
In his speech, he said “We are not looking for conflict or a new Cold War. To the contrary, we’re determined to avoid both.” He also said that the US is ready to increase “the direct communication with Beijing across a full range of issues.”
But no surprisingly, he described China as the “most serious long-term challenge to the international order,” and said the US will compete with China to defend its interests and its vision for the future.
Chinese observers said it is clear from Blinken’s speech that Biden administration’s policy toward China is nothing new but a summary of what it has done in the past 15 months. The softer rhetoric showed the US’ hypocrisy, and the essential nature of its China policy is still to compete with China in all fronts to contain it.
Blinken has strived to praise the US while sparing no efforts to demonize China in a bid to lay grounds for major power competition and the promotion of the Indo-Pacific Strategy, Diao Daming, associate professor at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times.
Blinken underscored the policy “modeled on that inherited from the Trump administration” with an “overview of the strategy rather than details on its mechanics” as some media previously reported.
The Biden administration’s policy toward China is based on Trump’s in nature while the tactics are returning to Obama era’s alignment – Biden’s policy has resorted to the measures that were proven effective in the previous two presidency terms, Xu Liang, an associate professor at the School of International Relations of Beijing International Studies University, told the Global Times.
What Blinken said about the Taiwan question was also predicted by Chinese experts: it was putting out the fire set by President Joe Biden’s “slip of the tongue.” Nevertheless, Chinese experts noted this doesn’t mean the US will adhere to the three China-US joint communiqués. The US has been trying to hollow out the core of the One-China principle.
Zhang Tengjun, deputy director of the Department for Asia-Pacific Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times that the trend of US deepening its ties with Taiwan island is growing. It is hard to predict the US’ petty moves but what is certain is the US will provoke China-US ties on many occasions, Zhang said.
The US will let its relations with China continue to slide into an abyss. Although deteriorated ties with China have impacted US society, the Biden administration is determined to make its political goals of containing China, Zhang noted.
Historically, when a US president faced a similar crisis of approval, resorting to external problems to promote internal unity and save the approval ratings was the usual option.
Biden probably has a similar plan, but the situation in the US will prevent it from being delivered. The voters care more about domestic issues and the US is suffering serious inflation, a raging pandemic and huge economic challenge – which cannot be solved by attacking China while beautifying itself. If the Biden administration fans a flame with China-US relations but fails to put out the fire, it will be thrown into a more difficult position.
Global issues like climate change, pandemic fight and economic recovery won’t be effectively addressed without China-US cooperation. And these issues also heavily affect US society. Both countries should respect the other’s core concerns. For China, it is the Taiwan question. But the US carries on provocations and makes trouble to make it harder for the two countries to improve ties.
The strategic mutual trust between China and the US is fragile. This has led to the so-called comprehensive competition. If China-US ties continue to worsen, the tensions may get out of control and end up in conflict.
In this context, Chinese experts also noted that China needs to see through the nature of US rhetoric and avoid traps of words. Provocations against China’s core interests must be resolutely countered. China has done much in this regard and should continue to make it clear to the US that China is a country walking the talk. As a well-known Chinese song goes: “For our friends, we have fine wine. For jackals or wolves, we welcome with shotguns.”
Blinken accused China of undermining the US-led ‘international order
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday delivered a long-awaited speech meant to outline the Biden administration’s China policy and called Beijing “the most serious long-term challenge” to the US-led “international order.”
Blinken maintained that China is the administration’s top priority despite all the support the US is giving to Ukraine in its fight against Russia. “Even as President Putin’s war continues, we will 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 at George Washington University.
Blinken said China is the top threat because it 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.”
The speech was meant to define Biden’s China policy, but Blinken mostly repeated accusations against Beijing that US officials have repeatedly made. Blinken also sent mixed messages by claiming the US doesn’t want a Cold War while also presenting Beijing as a major threat to the US-led global order that needs to be contained.
Blinken was scheduled to deliver the speech earlier this month, but it was rescheduled after he tested positive for Covid-19. Ahead of the speech, sources told Politico that Blinken wasn’t expected to say anything surprising and that Biden’s China policy would remain similar to the Trump administration’s.
Biden has continued Trump’s China policy by maintaining tariffs, increasing the US military presence in the South China Sea, and stepping up support for Taiwan. Both administrations emphasized the importance of building alliances in the Asia Pacific to counter China, prompting Biden to sign the AUKUS military pact with Britain and Australia.
Biden concluded his first trip to Asia as president this week where he announced new anti-China initiatives with the Quad and launched a new trade deal for the region, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). But those initiatives were overshadowed by the president pledging to intervene militarily if China invades Taiwan, which he later walked back.
Despite the eruption of military conflict between the United States and Russia over Ukraine, the central aim of US foreign policy is to cripple, isolate and contain China, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a major policy speech Thursday.
Blinken’s remarks, which have been delayed for months following the start of the war in Ukraine, represent a public presentation of the Biden administration’s internal strategy document on China, which declares that Beijing is the central target of the US military.
“Even as President Putin’s war continues, we will 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.
He continued, “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.”
“We will defend our interests against any threat,” Blinken said.
Although he did not use the term, Blinken’s statement embraces the framework of economic “decoupling” developed under Trump. Blinken explicitly repudiated the efforts by the Nixon administration to engage with Beijing. The “China of today is very different from the China of 50 years ago, when President Nixon broke decades of strained relations to become the first US president to visit the country,” he declared.
Blinken continued, “Now, China is a global power with extraordinary reach, influence, and ambition. It’s the second largest economy… it seeks to dominate the technologies and industries of the future. It’s rapidly modernized its military and intends to become a top tier fighting force with global reach. And it has announced its ambition to create a sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific and to become the world’s leading power.”
Blinken’s statement constitutes yet another embrace of the central foreign policy aim of the Trump administration: preparations for conflict with China. Notably, Blinken invoked the racist conspiracy theory developed by the Trump administration, that COVID-19 was a man-made virus, condemning China’s alleged efforts to block an “independent inquiry into COVID’s origin.”
Modeling his tone and delivery on the rhetoric of former President Obama, Blinken repeatedly made completely contradictory assertions with a straight face. Blinken delivered blood-curdling threats, followed immediately by a declaration that the United States is not threatening anyone.
“We are not looking for conflict or a new Cold War,” Blinken said, after making clear that Washington views the economic development of China as a threat to its “interests,” and is prepared to “defend our interests against any threat.”
The unstated premise of Blinken’s remarks was the so-called “Wolfowitz doctrine,” the policy conception, first expressed in the 1992 US defense planning guidance, which pledged, “to preclude any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests, and also thereby to strengthen the barriers against the reemergence of a global threat to the interests of the U.S. and our allies.”
The ultimate guarantor of US primacy, in Blinken’s view, is the US military. Blinken declared, “Our country is endowed with many strengths. “We have … abundant resources, the world’s reserve currency, the most powerful military on Earth.”
Blinken doubled down on the “whole of society” approach to military competition pioneered under the Trump administration, declaring, “The Biden administration is making far-reaching investments in our core sources of national strength—starting with a modern industrial strategy to sustain and expand our economic and technological influence, make our economy and supply chains more resilient, sharpen our competitive edge.”
Blinken’s saber rattling comments are accompanied by equally belligerent actions. The US is funneling weapons to Taiwan, seeking to turn the island into a front-line war zone against China, similarly to the way Ukraine is being used in the war against Russia.
Blinken’s warmongering against China comes as the United States is intensifying its own involvement in the Ukraine war.
The United States is actively discussing supplying Ukraine with the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), a missile system that would enable Ukrainian forces to strike hundreds of kilometers into Russian territory, Reuters reported Thursday.
Critically, US officials have put no restrictions on the use of this weapons system. “We have concerns about escalation and yet still do not want to put geographic limits or tie their hands too much with the stuff we’re giving them,” a US official told Reuters.
Earlier this week, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that the US would provide Ukraine with Harpoon anti-ship missiles via an intermediary, Denmark. The Harpoon is the standard anti-ship armament of the US Navy, capable of sinking large warships.
The Washington Post, for its part, is demanding further escalation, condemning all of those seeking a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
The Post approvingly quotes Boris Bondarev, a former Russian official now campaigning for an escalation of the US war, who declares, “You just can’t make peace now… If you do, it will be seen as a Russian victory… Only a total and clear defeat that is obvious to everyone will teach them.”
Commenting on these remarks, the Post declared, “It would be a disaster—both moral and strategic—if Mr. Putin were invited to talks before his major war objectives had been thwarted… the best way for Ukraine’s friends to help is to accelerate shipments of vital weaponry—and stop negotiating with themselves.”
These comments make clear that the United States is absolutely hostile to any peaceful settlement of the war. The aims of the conflict are to retake the Donbas and Crimea—Russia views the latter as its own territory.
The United States is set on a course of military escalation threatening to rapidly escalate into a direct shooting war involving US forces, whether in Ukraine, over the Taiwan Strait, or both. The path being plotted by the Biden administration threatens the lives not only of the tens of thousands already killed in the Ukraine war, but hundreds of thousands, or even millions more.
There is no limit to the number of Ukrainians, Taiwanese, Australians or even Americans that US imperialism is willing to sacrifice in pursuit of its “interests.”
These developments must be taken as a serious warning. Capitalism is leading mankind into disaster. The crisis triggered by the war, however, is bringing workers into struggle all over the world against the rising cost of living and the efforts by the ruling classes to make the working class pay the costs. This global movement provides the social base for the struggle to avert a new world war and stop the catastrophe looming over mankind.
THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
MAY 26, 2022
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. Good morning.
It’s a real pleasure to be here at The George Washington University. This is an institution that draws outstanding students and scholars from around the world and where the most urgent challenges that we face as a country and a planet are studied and debated. So thank you for having us here today.
And I especially want to thank our friends at the Asia Society, dedicated to forging closer ties with the countries and people of Asia to try to enhance peace, prosperity, freedom, equality, sustainability. Thank you for hosting us today, but thank you for your leadership every day. Kevin Rudd, Wendy Cutler, Danny Russel – all colleagues, all thought leaders, but also doers, and it’s always wonderful to be with you.
And I have to say I am really grateful, Senator Romney, for your presence here today – a man, a leader, that I greatly admire, a person of tremendous principle, who has been leading on the subject that we’re going to talk about today. Senator, thank you for your presence.
And I’m also delighted to see so many members of the diplomatic corps because diplomacy is the indispensable tool for shaping our shared future.
In the past two years we’ve come together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future global health emergencies, rebuild from economic shocks, from supply-chain disruptions to debt crises, and take on climate change, and reimagine an energy future that’s cleaner, more secure, and more affordable.
The common denominator across these efforts is the simple fact that none of us can meet these challenges alone. We have to face them together.
That’s why we’ve put diplomacy back at the center of American foreign policy, to help us realize the future that Americans and people around the world seek – one where technology is used to lift people up, not suppress them; where trade and commerce support workers, raise incomes, create opportunity; where universal human rights are respected; countries are secure from coercion and aggression, and people, ideas, goods, and capital move freely; and where nations can both forge their own paths and work together effectively in common cause.
To build that future, we must defend and reform the rules-based international order – the system of laws, agreements, principles, and institutions that the world came together to build after two world wars to manage relations between states, to prevent conflict, to uphold the rights of all people.
Its founding documents include the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrined concepts like self-determination, sovereignty, the peaceful settlement of disputes. These are not Western constructs. They are reflections of the world’s shared aspirations.
In the decades since, despite daunting challenges and despite the gap between our ideals and some of the results we’ve achieved, the countries of the world have avoided another world war and armed conflict between nuclear powers. We’ve built a global economy that lifted billions of people out of poverty. We’ve advanced human rights as never before.
Now, as we look to the future, we want not just to sustain the international order that made so much of that progress possible, but to modernize it, to make sure that it represents the interests, the values, the hopes of all nations, big and small, from every region; and furthermore, that it can meet the challenges that we face now and will face in the future, many of which are beyond what the world could have imagined seven decades ago.
But that outcome is not guaranteed because the foundations of the international order are under serious and sustained challenge.
Russian President Vladimir Putin poses a clear and present threat. In attacking Ukraine three months ago, he also attacked the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, enshrined in the UN Charter, to protect all countries from being conquered or coerced. That’s why so many countries have united to oppose this aggression because they see it as a direct assault on the foundation of their own peace and security.
Ukraine is fighting valiantly to defend its people and its independence with unprecedented assistance from the United States and countries around the world. And while the war is not over, President Putin has failed to achieve a single one of his strategic aims. Instead of erasing Ukraine’s independence, he strengthened it. Instead of dividing NATO, he’s united it. Instead of asserting Russia’s strength, he’s undermined it. And instead of weakening the international order, he has brought countries together to defend it.