State Secretary Antony Blinken holds a press conference at the end of a NATO Foreign Ministers meeting on March 24, 2021 at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
Olivier Hoslet | Reuters
WASHINGTON – Foreign Minister Antony Blinken on Wednesday issued a strong charge against China’s extensive use of coercive measures, calling on NATO allies to work with the US to push Beijing back.
Blinken said in a speech at NATO headquarters in Brussels that the US would not force its European allies to “choose between us or them”. However, he made it clear that Washington sees China as an economic and security threat to NATO allies in Europe, particularly in the area of technology.
“There is no question that Beijing’s coercive behavior threatens our collective security and prosperity and is actively working to undermine the rules of the international system and the values that we and our allies share,” said Blinken.
The secretary said there was still room to work with China on common challenges such as climate change and health security, but urged NATO to stand together if Beijing forces any of the alliance’s members.
“We know our allies have complex relationships with China that are not always a perfect match for ours. But we need to address these challenges together. That means working with our allies to fill the gaps in areas such as technology and infrastructure who are located in Beijing to use force pressure, “said Blinken.
“If either of us is forced, we should act as allies and work together to reduce our vulnerability by making sure our economies are more integrated,” said America’s top diplomat.
Blinken evoked China’s militarization of the South China Sea, predatory economy, intellectual property theft and human rights abuses.
On Monday, the Biden government again imposed sanctions on two Chinese officials, citing their role in serious human rights violations against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.
The Treasury Department accused China of using repressive tactics, including mass detention and surveillance, against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the region for the past five years.
“Targets of this surveillance are often arrested and reportedly subjected to various methods of torture and” political re-education “, the Treasury Department wrote in a statement.
Beijing previously denied US allegations that it committed genocide against the Uyghurs, a Muslim population native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China.
Blinken’s comments follow a controversial meeting between Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi and State Councilor Wang Yi in Alaska.
Before the talks, Blinken slammed China’s widespread use of “coercion and aggression” on the international stage, warning that the US would push back if necessary.
“China is using coercion and aggression to systematically undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy, undermine democracy in Taiwan, abuse human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet, and make maritime claims in the South China Sea that violate international law,” said Flashing at a press conference in Japan.
Tensions between Beijing and Washington increased under the Trump administration, which escalated a trade war and prevented Chinese tech companies from doing business in the US.
Over the past four years, the Trump administration blamed China for a variety of abuses, including intellectual property theft, unfair trade practices and, most recently, the coronavirus pandemic.
President Joe Biden, who spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping last month, previously said his approach to China would be different from that of his predecessor as he would work more closely with allies to achieve a backlash against Beijing.
“We will face China’s economic abuse,” said Biden in a speech at the State Department, describing Beijing as America’s “most serious competitor.”
“But we are also ready to work with Beijing if it is in the US interest,” said Biden. “We will compete from a position of strength by improving at home and working with our allies and partners.”
Blinken, the first cabinet-level official in Biden to visit NATO, reiterated his US commitment to the world’s most powerful alliance.
“We need to be able to have these tough conversations and even disagree while still treating each other with respect. In the past few years we seem to have forgotten too often who our friends are in the US. That has already changed, “said Blinken, without mentioning the” America First “policy advocated by the Trump administration.
Former President Donald Trump often disguised NATO members during his presidency and previously threatened to leave the alliance.
In December 2019, Trump told NATO leaders in London that too many members were still not paying enough and threatened to reduce US military support if allies did not increase spending.
Trump pointed out to Chancellor Angela Merkel that she had not achieved the target of 2% of GDP set at the 2014 NATO summit in Wales.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) watches US President Donald Trump (R) walk past her during a family photo as part of the NATO summit at the Grove Hotel in Watford, northeast of London, on December 4, 2019.
At the time, Germany was only one of 19 NATO members who had not achieved the target of 2% of GDP set at the 2014 summit.
Blinken recognized the irritated transatlantic relationship with defense finances and called for a “more holistic view of burden sharing”.
“We acknowledge the significant strides that many of our NATO allies have made in improving defense investments,” Blinken said, adding that “no single figure fully captures a country’s contribution to defending our collective security and interests, particularly in Europe a world where a growing number of threats cannot be confronted with military force. “
“We have to recognize that because allies have different skills and comparative strengths, they will bear their share of the burden in different ways,” said Blinken.