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Blinken Outlines US Strategy to Outcompete China, While Not Seeking 'Decoupling'

FILE - Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference on March 17, 2022, at the State Department in Washington.
FILE - Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference on March 17, 2022, at the State Department in Washington.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a major China policy speech Thursday, outlined the Biden administration's strategy to out-compete China in the next decade by investing in critical infrastructure and working with allies to bolster supply-chain security, while preventing unintended crises.

The administration is not seeking to "decouple" from China, according to senior officials. The term refers to progressively severing economic and trade linkages between the United States and China and was often heard during the administration of former President Donald Trump.

"The secretary will make clear that the United States is not looking to sever China's economy from ours or from the global economy," one senior administration official said during a background call to preview Blinken's China speech.

US Secretary of State to Clarify US Policy Toward China
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Another senior official said "we certainly welcome trade and investment between the United States and China as long as they are transparent, they are fair and they are secure."

Blinken's speech at George Washington University will focus on the theme of "invest, align and compete."

A new independent analysis from Bloomberg Economics projected that for the first time since 1976, the United States economy is poised to grow at a higher average annual growth rate than the Chinese economy this year.

The White House has touted how it says last year's bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, will rebuild America's roads, bridges and rails, help ease inflationary pressures and strengthen supply chains by making improvements in U.S. ports.

Blinken is expected to describe U.S. efforts, working with allies and partners to maintain and improve the international order, 16 months into the Biden administration.

This U.S.-China competition "is not about a new Cold War" or "dividing the world into rigid ideological blocks," one of the senior administration officials said.

"It is about upholding and revitalizing international order in a way that protects the core principles," the official said.

Top officials from the United States and its Asian allies have said Russia's aggression against Ukraine undermines the foundation of the international order, and any attempt to change the status quo by force in Asia or in other parts of the world is unacceptable.

Washington has also acknowledged its ability to change the Beijing government is very limited, though.

This week, China and Russia conducted a joint military exercise over the Sea of Japan, East China Sea and the Western Pacific, the first since Russia invaded Ukraine. It came as U.S. President Joe Biden was visiting the region for meetings with Japanese, Indian and Australian leaders.

China has refused to condemn Russia's war in Ukraine. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a "no-limits" strategic partnership between the two countries just weeks before the February 24 invasion.

One of the senior officials who briefed reporters on Wednesday evening said the United States has been working with China on open lines of communications to reduce risk of miscalculations, or what Biden called "guardrails" to avoid unintended conflicts between the two countries.

"There are no specific plans at this time" for Biden to hold another meeting with Xi following their virtual meeting last November, according to the official.

U.S. and Chinese defense chiefs, however, will have their first in-person meeting during this year's annual Shangri-La Dialogue, to be held June 10–12 in Singapore.
Blinken is expected to renew Washington's profound concerns over China's human rights practices, including genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.

Blinken's remarks would follow the release of the so-called Xinjiang Police Files, which are "a cache of data hacked from police computer servers in the region," according to the BBC.

The information includes thousands of photographs — including mug shots — and documents that show the Chinese government targeting Uyghurs for their ethnicity and Islamic faith.

In January 2021, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally classified China's policies toward Uighurs as genocide and crimes against humanity. Blinken has endorsed his predecessor's assessment that the Chinese Communist Party has engaged in genocide against the Uighur Muslim population in Xinjiang.

On Taiwan, Blinken will reiterate that Washington's policy is not changed and that the United States remains committed to its One China policy, which has been guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three joint communiques and the six assurances.

Earlier, Biden said the U.S. would be willing to intervene militarily to defend Taiwan if China were to invade the island democracy. Biden later said there is no change to the U.S. policy of strategic ambiguity on Taiwan.