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Blinken's remarks on China ring hollow, will not convince anyone

By Chen Weihua | China Daily | Updated: 2021-05-07 07:31
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference at NATO's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on April 14, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

In his interview with CBS News' 60 Minutes aired on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that "our purpose is not to contain China, to hold it back, to keep it down". While such messages from the US are welcome, they don't match the deeds of the incumbent administration, because US President Joe Biden and his officials continue to follow the Donald Trump administration's anti-China policies.

Perhaps Blinken's message was an attempt to coax the G7 member states' officials he met this week in the United Kingdom into an anti-China alliance that Washington has long dreamed of forming. But most G7 countries, despite being close US security allies, don't support the US' approach of "decoupling" with China and triggering a "new Cold War".

If the Biden administration's goal is not to contain China, why does it continue to impose Trump's absurd punitive tariffs on Chinese goods, despite the Washington-based US-China Business Council saying in January that the tariffs have caused a peak loss of 245,000 American jobs and would cause an additional loss of 145,000 jobs by 2025?

If the Biden administration's aim is not to hold China back, why has it intensified tech restrictions on Chinese companies and coercing US allies to help thwart China's economic development, ignoring the warning in a report by the US Chamber of Commerce and Rhodium Group in February that decoupling the US semiconductor industry from China would lower the economies of scale and R&D spending of US companies?

And if the Biden administration doesn't intend to keep China down, why does the US continue its reckless smear campaigns against China, both domestically and globally?

US officials never forget to spread lies about China to rally support for an agenda, often for unrelated agendas that now include Biden's efforts to sell his controversial $2 trillion infrastructure plan and Blinken's recent virtual meeting with some African leaders where he badmouthed China despite admitting that he doesn't know much about the dynamics of China's engagement in Africa.

At least, Biden was being honest when he told reporters in late March that China won't surpass the US under his watch. While the International Monetary Fund said in 2014 that the Chinese economy had already overtaken the US economy in terms of PPP(purchasing power parity), the most optimistic forecast for China surpassing the US in nominal terms is in 2028 when Biden is unlikely to be in office.

Biden's statement was honest in the sense that the US' goal is not about allegations that it has labeled against China, but about defending US primacy by using all means possible, including relentless sabotage of China's development and global reputation.

This reminds me of a 2015 debate between Kevin Rudd, former Australian prime minister, and Robert Daly, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Wilson Center, against China hawks John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Peter Brookes of the Heritage Foundation.

In the clip that went viral recently, Daly asks Mearsheimer why he advocates harming China's economy just to protect the US current status. "(It is) a place that has brought hundreds of millions of people out of absolute poverty. You advocate for dropping some of them back into poverty, this would hurt their medical system, their educational system. Is this what we want to do and be?"
I know Daly and do not always agree with him, but he has asked the critical question that people such as Biden and Blinken must answer, and answer honestly.

When Blinken told CBS News on Sunday that China is the one country that has the military, economic and diplomatic capacity to undermine or challenge the rules-based global order, what he really meant is that China is the one country that could challenge the US' global hegemony.

As long as the Biden administration continues to intensify measures and rhetoric to capitalize on the anti-China sentiment in Washington, Blinken's remarks that the US does not intend to contain China will not convince anyone.

The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.

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