© 2021 WYPR
50yrsHeader.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Secretary Of State Described China As Biden's Biggest Political Test

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The Biden administration has a lot of foreign policy challenges on its plate, from the conflict in Ethiopia and a coup in Myanmar to Iran's nuclear program and relations with Russia. But Secretary of State Anthony (ph) Blinken sees China as the biggest geopolitical test. NPR's Michele Kelemen explains why.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Secretary Blinken says he wants to lead a foreign policy that better serves Americans at home. And while he has a long list of crises to deal with, he says the challenge from China is different.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANTONY BLINKEN: China is the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system, all the rules, values and relationships that make the world work the way we want it to.

KELEMEN: He outlined his views in a speech Wednesday meant for the American public. Without mentioning Trump by name, he was clearly trying to turn a page from the last four years.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BLINKEN: Our relationship with China will be competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be and adversarial when it must be. The common denominator is the need to engage China from a position of strength. That requires working with allies and partners, not denigrating them.

KELEMEN: Real strength, he added, isn't bluster or bullying. Aside from China, his top priorities include fighting the coronavirus pandemic and working with partners to tackle climate change. Blinken said there's work to be done here, too, in the wake of the mob attack on the Capitol in January.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BLINKEN: Shoring up our democracy is a foreign policy imperative. Otherwise, we play right into the hands of adversaries and competitors like Russia and China, who sees every opportunity to sow doubts about the strength of our democracy. We shouldn't be making their jobs easier.

KELEMEN: His pitch is that America is better off with more democracies working together.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.