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Joe Biden calls China the ‘most serious competitor’ to the US, in first foreign

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adroth:
Joe Biden calls China the ‘most serious competitor’ to the US, in first foreign policy speech
Owen Churchill in United States
Published: 4:17am, 5 Feb, 2021

Summary:

- US president pledges to ‘take on directly the challenges posed [to] our prosperity, security and democratic values’ raised by Beijing

- Relations with China are fraught, with Washington making critical statements about actions in Xinjiang and offering early support to Taiwan.

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3120618/first-foreign-policy-address-president-biden-calls-china-most

In his first foreign policy address, US President Joe Biden on Thursday described China as the “most serious competitor” to the United States and vowed to confront Beijing on various fronts, including human rights, intellectual property and economic policy.

Appearing at the State Department, Biden said his administration would “take on directly the challenges posed [to] our prosperity, security and democratic values by our most serious competitor: China”.

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Relations with Beijing remain fraught, too, with Washington making critical statements about China’s actions in Xinjiang and offering early signs of support to Taiwan, including an unprecedented invitation for the self-ruled island’s representative to attend Biden’s inauguration.

Biden has still not spoken with Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom he called a “thug” during his election campaign, despite holding conversations with a growing list of world leaders. A State Department official said on Tuesday that the administration wanted to first ensure it was in “lockstep” with its allies before engaging with Beijing.

Beijing has appealed to Washington to reverse Trump’s “misguided policies”, but Biden’s picks for two top diplomatic posts – Antony Blinken as secretary of state and Linda Thomas-Greenfield for ambassador to the United Nations – have signalled that the new administration will pursue a hardline and multilateral approach to challenging China’s actions.

Earlier on Thursday, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination of Thomas-Greenfield, who vowed to combat China’s “authoritarian agenda” at the UN. Her nomination now moves to the full Senate for consideration, and approval is expected.

Speaking to reporters before Biden’s speech, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the administration’s priority for its China trade policy was not to get access for multinational investment firms, but to “deal with China’s trade abuses that are harming American jobs and American workers in the United States”.

On human rights, Blinken has expressed agreement with the Trump administration’s determination that the Chinese government is committing acts of genocide in its treatment of Uygurs and other ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang, angering Beijing.

The State Department recently started a review into whether that official designation met procedural requirements. An agency representative did not respond to an inquiry regarding its status, but said in a statement that China had committed crimes against humanity in the region, including imprisonment, torture, enforced sterilisation and persecution.

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