US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers a speech on the Biden administration's policy toward China during an event hosted by the Asia Society Policy Institute in Washington, DC, May 26, 2022. (ALEX WONG / AFP)
The Chinese side's lukewarm response to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's long-awaited speech on the Joe Biden administration's approach to China on Thursday reflects its lack of surprises. Seemingly comprehensive, it offered nothing new. It was simply an encapsulation of the competition, confrontation and a little cooperation that has defined the Biden administration's policy toward China since taking office.
No matter how humble Blinken tried to make himself sound in delivering it, especially in contrast with the rudeness of his predecessor when speaking about China, he could not hide the fact that the Biden and Trump administrations are hawks of similar feathers when it comes to China. The difference being that the Biden administration seeks to draw others to the United States' side through scaremongering and coercion if necessary.
Although Blinken claimed the administration is trying to give countries "a choice" rather than forcing countries to choose between the US and China, the Solomon Islands and others might beg to differ.
In speaking of the need "to modernize" the international system to make sure that it represents the interests, values and hopes of all nations, big and small, from every region, Blinken was echoing the call of China. But he made clear that the democratizing of the global system that Washington envisions is simply a club of yea-sayers willing to move the world away from the universal values embodied in the United Nations that have sustained so much of the world's progress over the past 75 years and reshape the global system to better serve the US' will.
His speech also made it clear that the US will not stop interfering in China's internal affairs. Just like its predecessor, the Biden administration feels no qualms about making a fuss about the Taiwan question and the situations in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong in a bid to denigrate China and cause trouble for it.
As State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in response to Blinken's speech, it is the US that is a source of turbulence undermining the current world order and which has become a stumbling block hindering the democratization of international relations. China is not as the US imagines or portrays it, Wang said. The common pursuit of modernization by 1.4 billion Chinese people is not a threat or challenge to the world.
Undoubtedly, China-US relations are at an important crossroads. The US side should make the right choice and stop focusing on relations between the two countries as a zero-sum game.
Instead of its obsession with "Western-centrism," "exceptionalism" and its Cold War mentality, the US should focus on the three principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation. It should pay heed to the to-do lists China gave it as guidelines of how the two countries can get along together. Cordial relations are not only in line with the trend of the times but also accord with the wide expectations of the rest of the world.