U.S. National Security Advisor Warns China About Price of Invading Taiwan
China Times, January 29 and 31, 2021
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated on January 29 that the administration of President Joe Biden will review all the national security measures of the Trump administration, including the phase-one trade deal with China signed in January 2020. On the same day, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that China poses a major security challenge to the United States, and the U.S. must make China pay a price for its actions in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, as well as pressure towards Taiwan.
After assuming office as secretary of state, Antony Blinken expressed his views on U.S.-China relationship for the first time on January 27. He said that the relationship between the United States and China has adversarial and competitive aspects, but there is still room for cooperation. Blinken cited that both sides should work together to deal with climate change, for it is in the common interest of the two countries. Separately the White House announced on the same day the holding of a video conference on global climate change to be attended by leaders of major greenhouse gas emitting countries on April 22. President Biden may be able to meet with President Xi Jinping online at the summit.
During the January 29 White House press briefing, a reporter asked whether the Biden administration considers the U.S.-China trade deal is still in effect. Press Secretary Jen Psaki replied that everything that the past administration has put in place is under review as it relates to the Biden administration’s national security approach, including the relationship with China. So one should not assume that things are moving forward. Psaki added that the Biden administration is focused on approaching the U.S.-China relationship from a position of strength, meaning that the United States is coordinating and communicating with its allies about how it is going to deal with China.
During a video conference held in Washington on January 29, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that China is one of the major challenges the United States is facing, but the most effective way is to refurbish the American model. Sullivan said that China is attacking the United States by saying that the United States is divided and dysfunctional. The Chinese leaders have pointed out more than once that China can provide a development model that is different from the democracy and free market model the United States has been promoting for decades.
Sullivan indicated that the United States must voice out its values and be ready to defend them at all times. He also said that the United States should speak with clarity and consistency in regards to China and should be prepared to act as well as to impose costs for what China is doing in Xinjiang, what it is doing in Hong Kong, and for the bellicosity and threats that it is projecting towards Taiwan.
Sullivan also stated that in order to advance a free, prosperous, and equitable model, the United States should be in lockstep with its democratic allies and partners. He explained that with its allies in Europe and Asia, the United States can lead a chorus of voices that would give a better leverage to defend the principles that they represent and stand up to China’s pressure.
In response to Sullivan’s statements, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) thanked the Biden administration’s strong support through continuous public statements by its relevant policy officials. MOFA added that Taiwan will continue to cooperate with the United States to defend democracy, freedom, human rights, and rule-based international order, and will actively contribute to regional peace and development.
On his first day as secretary of state on January 27, Antony Blinken stated in a press briefing that it is not a secret that the relationship between the United States and China is the most important one in the world for the future. He said the relationship has increasingly adversarial aspects, but there are competitive aspects. There are also aspects for cooperation where both countries have common interest, including on climate.
Secretary Blinken added that it is in the interests of China, the United States, and nations around the world to make concrete progress in combating global warming. Blinken hopes that countries will be able to pursue that endeavor. And that fits within the larger context of American foreign policy and the many issues which concern the U.S. relationship with China.
When Secretary Blinken delivered a speech to State Department employees earlier on the same day, he said that the whole world needs the leadership of the United States. He stated that the United States will put a premium on diplomacy with its allies and partners to meet the great challenges of our time. They include the present pandemic, climate change, economic downturn, threats to democracy, and struggles for racial justice, and the dangers to American security and global stability posed by rivals and adversaries.
The White House announced on January 27 that the United States will hold a summit on global climate change on April 22. The White House stressed that the solution to global climate change is a core work of Biden administration’s diplomacy and security. China is the world’s largest carbon-dioxide emitting country, and the United States is the second largest emitter. Without the cooperation of the two countries, there is no way to tackle the problem of climate change. While President Xi Jinping would very likely be invited to the summit, and while the summit may be conducted by video, so it is expected that the two leaders will meet with each other online.
Secretary Blinken also called Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. on January 27. They reaffirmed that a strong U.S.-Philippines alliance is vital to a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Blinken underscored that the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty covers the whole Pacific region, including the South China Sea where there are sovereignty disputes. According to the statement released by the State Department, Blinken said the Mutual Defense Treaty clearly applies to armed attacks against the Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, which includes the South China Sea. Secretary Blinken also stated that the United States rejects China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea to the extent they exceed the maritime zones that China is permitted to claim under international law as reflected in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Blinken pledged to stand with Southeast Asian claimants in the face of China’s pressure.
Secretary Blinken’s statement is the clearest and toughest position on issues related to the South China Sea made by the new Biden administration in its first week in office.