In a long-awaited speech on China delivered at George Washington University, the Secretary of State considered that Beijing posed “currently the most serious risk of undermining the international order”.
This intervention puts China at the center of the geopolitical concerns of the United States, after several months monopolized by the war in Ukraine.
“China is the only country that both intends to reshape the international order and increasingly has the means to do so economically, diplomatically, militarily and technologically,” he said.
“Beijing’s vision would take us away from the universal values that have underpinned much of the world’s progress in the past 75 years,” he added.
US President Joe Biden, who often presents the current world in an opposition between democracies and autocracies, believes that this decade will be “decisive”, according to Antony Blinken.
The United States recognizes that it will be difficult to change the trajectory of China and the ambitions of President Xi Jinping.
“That’s why we will work to create a strategic environment around Beijing to advance our vision of an open and inclusive international system,” said the US Secretary of State.
In his speech, he denounced China’s attitude of “increasing coercion” vis-à-vis Taiwan, while insisting that Washington’s policy on this issue had not changed.
Joe Biden has caused trouble twice in recent months by indicating that the United States was ready to defend Taiwan militarily.
– No cold war –
This speech by Antony Blinken on China is in line with the positions of the Biden administration. It had initially been envisaged that it would be pronounced by the president himself.
With Joe Biden’s recent Asian tour and an unprecedented summit in Washington in early May with Southeast Asian leaders, he aims to demonstrate that the US administration remains focused on Asia.
“We are not looking for a conflict or a new cold war. On the contrary, we are determined to avoid them”, assured Antony Blinken.
“We don’t want to prevent China from playing its role as a major power or prevent China or any other country from growing its economy and defending the interests of its people,” he said.
But the preservation of the international order, including respect for international laws and agreements “would allow all countries — including the United States and China — to coexist and cooperate”.
When it came to power, the Biden administration placed China at the top of its international priorities by describing the country as its only long-term competitor on a global scale.
The United States believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin poses a “severe and immediate threat” to the international order and that countering it reinforces the message of respect for international rules, a senior American official has explained under cover of ‘anonymity.
The Biden administration has repeatedly spoken of the need to pressure China to play by the rules, including in its South China Sea and trade disputes, with the US accusing Beijing of theft generalized.
President Biden has tried to unite his allies against China and announced in Tokyo on Monday the launch of a new economic partnership in Asia-Pacific to counterbalance Beijing.
But the United States believes that cooperation is possible with Beijing in certain areas, such as the fight against climate change.
These agreements should not prevent a strong denunciation of human rights violations by China, according to Washington, which considers in particular that Beijing is committing genocide against the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang.