US Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined his government’s China policy on May 26 in a long-winded speech that can only be described as underwhelming and unconvincing. The speech was slated to take place earlier in the month but was pushed back, thanks to Blinken coming down with Covid-19, and the administration of President Joe Biden stressed to reporters beforehand that it would not contain any major announcements.
Some believed that there would be more clarity on certain issues, especially on the question of Taiwan, after Biden’s “gaffe” about a “commitment” to “defend” Taiwan against an attack from the mainland took all of the attention from his first Asia trip as president. That was not the case. Blinken served up the usual rhetoric and platitudes while ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room.
Other than that, the secretary of state assured the world that relations between the world’s two most important and influential countries would remain fraught with contradictions. And on the “competition” Washington so desperately seeks with Beijing, Blinken offered few details. One wonders whether deliberate “strategic ambiguity” on China policy has become just sheer incompetence.
The entirety of Blinken’s speech framed the United States as the defender of the existing international order and China as the one tearing it down. Reality tells us a different story, however. The United States has been at war for 228 years out of its nearly 246 years in existence; meanwhile, China is rarely at war.