The US must meet the challenge posed by a rising China, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.
In his first major address since taking office, Blinken outlined the Biden administration’s vision of America’s role in the world, reports Politico.
That vision, according to Blinken, includes finding ways to tackle challenges from battling technological attacks, to addressing climate change, to strengthening democracy.
And on virtually every front, he said, the US will likely have to deal with the communist government in Beijing.
“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 in the speech, delivered at the State Department.
The speech underscored how much US national security is shifting away from terrorism and focusing more on competition with “great powers” such as China.
He said the Biden administration is prioritising elevating diplomacy while maintaining military supremacy; cooperating with foreign allies; and standing up for human rights.
Blinken also hit another favourite Biden theme: the need to strengthen democracy.
“Shoring up our democracy is a foreign policy imperative,“ he said. “Otherwise, we play right into the hands of adversaries like Russia and China, who seize every opportunity to sow doubts about the strength of our democracy. We shouldn’t be making their jobs easier.”
He dismissed, however, some past US attempts to bring about democracy abroad.
“We will not promote democracy through costly military interventions or by attempting to overthrow authoritarian regimes by force,” he said. “We’ve tried these tactics in the past and they haven’t worked. They’ve given ‘democracy promotion’ a bad name.”
America faces its “biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century: our relationship with China,” he said.
“That relationship will be competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be.
“The common denominator is the need to engage China from a position of strength.”