“The relationship with China is arguably the most consequential and the most complex of any that we have,” said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a conversation at Rice University in Houston, Texas.
China, said Secretary Blinken, has the military, economic, and diplomatic means to pose a challenge to the current understanding of “the rules of the road.”
“We don’t shy away from the notion that we’re in an intense competition. And as Americans, there’s nothing wrong – and, in fact, in many ways everything right – with competition, as long as it’s fair and as long as we are properly resourced to succeed in that competition,” he said.
There are two foundations the Biden Administration has put in place to deal with the challenges posed by China, Secretary Blinken said:
“It starts at home, because our strength at home goes directly to our ability to have a strong standing around the world and to deal with competition from other states. The investments that we’ve been able to make over the past two and a half years – truly historic in nature: a bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the CHIPS and Science bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, which goes to 21st century climate technology and energy technology. ... This is a demonstration that America is determined to compete and America is determined to lead.”
The second foundation is to work with other countries to build what Secretary Blinken calls “convergence.”
“There is tremendous power in that convergence of approaches. Just take economic issues where we have differences with China: If it’s only the United States that is opposing something that China is doing, well, that’s significant, but we’re 20 percent of world GDP,” he said. “If we’re aligned with European partners, with key partners in Asia - Japan, Korea, Australia, India - suddenly we’re 50 or 60 percent of world GDP. And that is something that no country, including China, can ignore.”
There are also areas where the United States is directly contesting China’s activities, and, Secretary Blinken said, “We will do that whenever we have to.” However, he stressed, the United States and China do have overlapping interests where there is opportunity for cooperation, including climate change, global health, and non-proliferation.
“I don’t think these things are in contradiction,” said Secretary Blinken. “But the common denominator is approaching each of them from a position of strength.”