THE LONG-AWAITED EXPOSITION exposition of the Biden administration’s China policy lays out Washington’s continued commitment to treating Beijing as its principal rival, regardless of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Biden policy has been characterised only half-jokingly as ‘Trump-plus with sophistication’.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who summarised the policy in a speech on Thursday, trod lightly compared to senior officials in the previous Trump administration in their corresponding speeches, a low bar, admittedly. But even if Blinken’s tone was not provocative, it was still confrontational rather than conciliatory.
Beijing will take little comfort from that and assume the worst about US intentions towards it. It will not change its long-term course, particularly in shaping a world order that is an alternative to the prevailing US-led one.
Blinken acknowledged that, calling China ‘the most serious long-term challenge to the international order’. Unable to rely on Beijing to change its trajectory, he said, the United States would seek to ‘shape the strategic environment around Beijing’.
This will involve strengthening US diplomatic and military deterrence, including in the information, cyber and space realms. Economically, it will consist of a strategy of ‘invest, align and compete’, which involves cooperating with other states and improving US competitiveness in advanced and novel technologies to blunt China’s technological development and trade advances.
All in all, that will sound a lot like containment to Chinese ears, especially if the United States continues its efforts to reassure Asian partners such as Japan, South Korea and India that its support is steadfast.