‘Strategic ambiguity’ or sheer incompetence? Blinken’s China speech shows the US is outmatched in competition with Beijing — Analysis
Washington’s top diplomat was supposed to clarify its China policy but instead face-planted, highlighting incompetence in the US government
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined his government’s China policy on May 26 in a long-winded speech that can only be described as underwhelming and unconvincing. Although originally scheduled for earlier in May, the speech was delayed due to Blinken’s visit to Covid-19. The administration of Joe Biden also stressed that the speech would not include any significant announcements.
Some believed that there would be more clarity on certain issues, especially on the question of Taiwan, after Biden’s “gaffe”About a “commitment”To “defend”The Taiwan defense against an attack by the mainland was the focus of his Asia trip. This was far from the truth. Blinken offered the standard rhetoric and platitudes but ignored the real elephant in the space.
Other than that, the secretary of state assured the world that relations between the world’s two most important and influential countries would remain fraught with contradictions. The secretary of state also spoke out on “competition”Washington is desperate to reach out to Beijing. Blinken provided few details. It is possible that deliberate intentions were involved “strategic ambiguity”China policy is now a matter of pure incompetence.
The entirety of Blinken’s speech framed the United States as the defender of the existing international order and China as the one tearing it down. However, reality tells us something different. In spite of being nearly 246 year old, the United States has only been in war 228 times. China is seldom at war.
Even though the US had a monopoly on the international security infrastructure, aggression wars have continued unabated. In its conquest of the world, America has caused millions to be displaced and killed. This has led to an unimaginable amount of misery. Washington and its allies ignored the Charter of the United Nations that established an international order in the wake of WWII.
China is a member of international law. It also adheres to diplomatic conventions. China is a huge beneficiary of the current world order. It has even used it to their advantage by leading one of the most successful anti-poverty campaigns in history. Chinese President Xi Jinping declared victory in a war that his country had launched: the eradication poverty in China.
US clarifies Taiwan policy
Blinken suggested Beijing was guilty of unfair trade practices. Representatives from both major political parties were present in the US Congress and agreed with Blinken’s accusations. They continue to pass protectionist legislation meant to cut down on China. The World Trade Organization, which is the largest multilateral organization charged with litigating these matters, does not accept this accusation.
In fact, it was only a few days after the anti China version of US House of Representatives had been introduced “America competes”The WTO has issued a decision allowing China the right to impose duties of $645million annually on US imports due to China’s abuse of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties. This isn’t even to discuss the illegal unilateral sanctions that Washington applies to its political adversaries, but are worth at least mentioning.
Blinken assured that Washington doesn’t seek to a “new Cold War” against China – but policies by his government suggest the exact opposite. Washington is at least trying to, or raising the possibility of bifurcation once more.
The creation of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework was intended to undermine China. It provided incentives to Asian countries to separate from Beijing and to isolate China from Indo-Pacific supply chain chains. Unfortunately, the IPEF cannot be considered a trade deal. This is likely due to the fact that it isn’t possible for Congress to approve.
The US has recently hosted the ASEAN Summit, which was held in Washington this month. The US offered $150 million to Southeast Asia development, an area that was notably bombed by the US half a century earlier.
It may seem like quite a bit of money, but it’s not when you consider the fact that US spends approximately $100 million per month on Ukraine. It shows that the US government doesn’t have the resources (or political will perhaps) to meaningfully engage with the region in terms they desire. ASEAN leaders understandably aren’t comfortable with pressure put on them to choose sides.
Blinken spoke out against coercion and said that Asia should be kept a region. “where countries are free to make their own sovereign decisions.”Australia and the US panic after China signed a security deal with the Solomon Islands. Meanwhile, US fingerprints have been all over Imran Khan’s ouster as pro-China Pakistani PM. The US appears to be a firm believer in freedom of choice, provided you choose them.
Blinken’s speech – wherein he said things that were just completely false or hypocritical – could be viewed as a reiteration of US “strategic autonomy,” as it has been a mainstay of the US’ China policy for some time. Likewise, Biden’s remarks on Taiwan could also be interpreted as this. But it’s hard to discern any strategic thinking at play.
China is a very important issue for the United States. The diplomats of the United States are far outmatched. Its political system, which is outdated and too slow to move as fast as those of its competitors, has become inefficient. Any meaningful legislation is being thwarted by political deadlock. And the president himself is a babbling fool – and no, I am not taking a pot shot at his advanced age because he was famous for his “gaffes” for a long time.
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