Blinken: US won’t push allies into ‘us-or-them’ choice on China
Secretary of State Antony Binken on Wednesday will warn that China is a threat to the West but that the U.S. will not force allies to choose between Washington and Beijing, according to excerpts of a speech to be delivered at NATO headquarters.
The Biden administration has made rebuilding alliances a key priority of its foreign policy as part of its efforts to confront and compete with China’s ambitions on the world stage, which it has identified as the greatest challenge of the 21st century.
According to the speech, the secretary recognized allies’ individual priorities on their relationship with China but called for democratic countries to cooperate to push back on what it views as Beijing’s threats to the international order.
“The United States won’t force our allies into an ‘us-or-them’ choice with China. … We know that our allies have complex relationships with China that won’t always align perfectly with ours. But we need to navigate these challenges together,” Blinken will say.
“That means working with our allies to close the gaps in areas like technology and infrastructure, which China is exploiting to exert coercive pressure.”
But the secretary will also say that the U.S. is prepared to cooperate with Beijing where it is necessary, in particular tackling global issues of climate change, eliminating COVID-19 and preparing against the next pandemic.
The Biden administration has committed to reassuring allies that it is putting an end to the Trump administration’s “America First” approach, which was criticized for being combative and bullying.
But Blinken in his speech also recognized the need for equal burden sharing in multilateral institutions and defense organizations, a hallmark of the Trump administration’s criticisms of partner country’s failing to meet NATO’s requirement for defense spending.
Blinken is set to say that such disagreements can be made with “respect.”
“We will always pull our weight, and we will recognize when our allies are pulling theirs. Let’s be frank: this has often been a contentious issue, particularly in the Transatlantic relationship,” he will say in his remarks.
“We need to be able to have these tough conversations — and even to disagree — while still treating one another with respect. Too often in recent years, we in the U.S. seem to have forgotten who our friends are. That has already changed.”
The secretary’s speech at NATO is occurring alongside wide-ranging meetings with close U.S. allies that are taking place this week in Brussels.
It is his second trip abroad following face-to-face meetings in Japan and South Korea last week and part of efforts by the Biden administration to coordinate closely with allies over shared concerns with Beijing.
The U.S., European Union, United Kingdom and Canada announced sanctions earlier this week on Chinese officials for human rights abuses occurring in Xinjiang against the Uyghur ethnic minority, the first such coordinated action under the Biden administration.
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