Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Beijing in June and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s July visit, testify to the importance of managing the great power relationship between the United States and the PRC.
Secretary Blinken said the United States and the PRC have competing visions for the future: one that upholds a free and prosperous world order based on international norms and rights; and one that promotes an illiberal order that devalues human rights, exercises predatory economic practices, and claims spheres of influence.
“We want to make sure in that competition,” said Secretary Blinken, “our vision prevails.”
In the meantime, the two nations must strive for “peaceful coexistence”, because neither country “is going away.”
Secretary Blinken acknowledged that Beijing’s aggression toward Taiwan is a threat to peaceful coexistence and to the agreed-upon status quo.
“If you go back to 2016, we’ve seen Beijing taking actions that suggest that the status quo was not acceptable. And we’ve seen that in some of the military operations that they’ve been engaged in ... We’ve seen that in the economic coercion exerted against Taiwan and for that matter, exerted against the countries that have relationships with Taiwan.”
Secretary Blinken rejected the PRC’s contention that Taiwan is solely a sovereign issue of China’s:
“Fifty percent of commercial traffic, trade, goes through that strait every single day; 50% of container traffic in the world; 70% of the semiconductors that we use from everything from our smartphones to our washing machines to our automobiles make on Taiwan. If there were be a crisis as a result of actions that either side takes...you’ve got potentially a global economic crisis.”
Because of that, Secretary Blinken said, “Country after country is going to both of us and saying, ‘We expect the responsible management of this issue to be sustained.’”
Secretary Blinken emphasized that the “One China policy” of the United States has not changed. He also said, “We are there for Taiwan.”
“Under the Taiwan Relations Act, we’ve had a long standing policy of making sure that we could do what’s necessary to help Taiwan defend itself.”
Secretary Blinken said it is essential that the competition between the United States and the PRC not veer into conflict, and that lines of communications are built back up: “And I think,” he declared, “you’re going to start to see more engagement in both directions.”