U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared Wednesday that the relationship between the United States and China is the world’s “biggest geopolitical test” of the century.
In his first major foreign policy speech, Blinken said the new Biden administration would “manage” ties with China “from a position of strength.”
“That requires engaging in diplomacy and in international organizations, because where we have pulled back, China has filled in,” Blinken said at the State Department in Washington.
The top U.S. diplomat said Washington would continue to compete, collaborate and be “adversarial,” if necessary, with China, “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’s speech laid out President Joe Biden’s strategy to “renew America’s strengths” on the global stage with a pledge to “lead with diplomacy.”
Throughout his presidency, Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, launched a relentless trade war with Beijing, strongly suggested the coronavirus was leaked from the Chinese city of Wuhan laboratory, and challenged China’s military control of the disputed South China Sea.
Blinken said the Biden administration’s other major foreign policy objectives include working to contain the global coronavirus pandemic, building a more inclusive global economy and addressing the growing global threat against democracy that has been fueled by the global pandemic.
“The erosion of democracy is not only happening in other places. It’s also happening here in the United States. Disinformation is rampant here. Structural racism and inequality make life worse for millions. Our elected leaders were targeted in the violent siege of the Capitol just two months ago,” Blinken said.
“And now they’re watching us, because they want to see whether our democracy is resilient, whether we can rise to the challenge here at home,” he added.
Repairing relations with allies, addressing climate change and powering a “green energy revolution” are also on the list of Biden’s foreign policy priorities, as is maintaining a lead in technology.
“We want America to maintain our scientific technological edge because its critical to us thriving in a 21st century economy. But we know that new technologies aren’t automatically beneficial,” Blinken said. “We need to make sure technologies protect your privacy, make the world safer and healthier and make democracies more resilient.”
Blinken said last month the Biden administration would also seek to bolster and extend the nuclear deal reached between Iran and world powers.