US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced the launch of a new ‘China House’ within the State Department, made up of a team of diplomats focused on coordinating policy to confront Beijing. In a speech delivered at George Washington University on Thursday, the diplomat announced the creation of the team.
“The scale and scope of the challenge posed by the People’s Republic of China will test American diplomacy like nothing we’ve seen before,” Blinken stated. “I’m determined to give our Department and our diplomats the tools they need to meet this challenge head on, as part of my modernization agenda,” he said, describing the new body as a “Departmental-wide, integrated team” that will work with Congress where needed.
The State Department chief insisted the directional shift, aimed at recentering China in the US’ foreign policy crosshairs even as Washington shovels billions of dollars into the war in Ukraine, is not about ramping up conflict with China.
“We aren’t looking for conflict or a new Cold War. To the contrary, we’re determined to avoid both,” Blinken said.
Instead, the US’ strategy is to “Compete, invest and align” with what Blinken called “This is arguably the greatest relationship we can have with the future of the world.” He also called China “This is the biggest long-term problem facing the international order.”
“We will invest in the foundations of our strength at home – our competitiveness, innovation, and democracy. Our efforts will be aligned with the network of partners and allies, working together for common purposes and common causes. By leveraging these key assets, China will be our competitor in our defense and our pursuit of our goals for the future.,” the chief diplomat said.
While the Biden administration has doubled down on its ‘one China policy’, warning Beijing against any actions that might be perceived as impinging on Taipei’s independence, Blinken insisted that Washington’s approach had not changed – instead, it was “Beijing’s growing coercion” and “Progressively provocative speech and activities” that was destabilizing the region.
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The US remains “Dedicated to intensive diplomacy and intense competition,” Blinken said, insisting that “we can’t let the disagreements that divide us stop us from moving forward on the priorities that demand that we work together for the good of our people and the good of the world.”
Blinken originally had been scheduled to address the crowd in May but he was later diagnosed with Covid-19. Instead, his speech followed President Joe Biden’s four-day trip to Asia, in which the commander-in-chief visited South Korea and Japan.