Secretary of State Nominee Blinken Sees Strong Foundation for Bipartisan China Policy
By Nike Ching January 19, 2021
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's foreign policy team is vowing to work with like-minded partners around the world to take on pressing challenges, ranging from receding democracy to the growing rivalry with China, Russia and other authoritarian states.
Tuesday, Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations at his confirmation hearing that he believed President Donald Trump was right in taking "a tougher approach" to China, even if he did not agree with all his methods.
"As we look at China, there is no doubt that it poses the most significant challenge" to U.S. national interests, Blinken said, noting there's room for cooperation.
"There are rising adversarial aspects of the relationship; certainly, competitive ones, and still some cooperative ones, when it is in our mutual interests," he added.
Blinken was deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. He was staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel, and later was then-Vice President Biden's national security adviser.
The incoming Biden administration may take confidence-building steps to reverse irritants in U.S.-China relations, including easing visa restrictions on journalists and restoring closed consulates, according to Kurt Campbell, who has been tapped as Biden's senior coordinator for Indo-Pacific policy at the White House National Security Council.
Blinken on Tuesday endorsed the assessment that the Chinese Communist Party has engaged in genocide against the Uighur Muslim population in Xinjiang. Outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the genocide determination earlier in the day.
China has rejected all accusations of abuses.
Blinken said under the incoming Biden administration, the United States will uphold its commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to ensure that Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy, has the ability to defend itself against aggression.
Chinese officials have said that Xinjiang and Taiwan are among the most sensitive issues, warning against any "foreign interference."
Relations between the U.S. and Taiwan have been governed by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act since Washington switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing to counter the then-Soviet Union.
China and Taiwan have been separately ruled since the 1949 end of China's civil war. Beijing still claims sovereignty over Taiwan and has not ruled out the use of force to unite the two sides.
The Chinese Communist Party has never governed Taiwan.
Blinken added the U.S. would like to see Taiwan "play a greater role around the world" and "in international organizations" that do not require the status of a country.
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