Secretary of State Tony Blinken said China’s growing ambition represents “the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century,” and vowed to treat the country as an adversary when necessary in a policy speech Wednesday.
Blinken mentioned China among eight top foreign policy priorities for President Joe Biden’s administration, including the coronavirus, climate change and other issues. He said China is the only country capable of “seriously” challenging the current, U.S.-led international order, going on to condemned China for destroying democracy in Hong Kong and for its ongoing human rights abuses in Xinjiang, which the administration has deemed a genocide. (RELATED: Biden Needs To Make A Decision On China — Fast)
“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,” Blinken said. “Our relationship with China will competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be.”
.@SecBlinken’s 8-part diplomatic strategy for America, to be unveiled at 11 ET:
1) Contain Covid, ⬆️ global health
2) More inclusive economy
3) Renew democracy
4) Humane & effective immigration
5) Revitalize alliances
6) Tackle climate change
7) Tech leadership
8) Manage China
— Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox) March 3, 2021
Blinken’s speech may represent the first time a high-ranking member of the Biden administration has referred to China as an “adversary.” Biden has previously stuck to calling China a “competitor” even as he pursues various anti-China policies.
Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin have already ordered the Pentagon to conduct a complete review of existing U.S. policies toward China, including force posture and relevant alliances.
The task force conducting the review will make recommendations within “the next few months” on how the U.S. should alter its policies toward China. One such area is China’s aggression in the South China Sea, where it makes claims of sovereignty outside international law and in conflict with its neighbors. The U.S. has long sent air craft carrier strike groups into the sea to curb China’s claims.