Secretary of State Blinken: "Trump Was Right To Take A Tougher Line" On China | Video | RealClearPolitics

Secretary of State Blinken: "Trump Was Right To Take A Tougher Line" On China

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NPR: NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks with Secretary of State Tony Blinken about foreign policy goals under the Biden administration and how he plans to shape America's standing on the global stage.


MARY LOUISE KELLY, NPR: A question or two on China: The Trump administration took a hard line against China. And you've said credit where credit's due, Trump was right to get tougher on China. My question to you, Secretary Blinken, is what is the evidence that it's worked, that China has changed its behavior in any way?

SECRETARY OF STATE TONY BLINKEN: Well, there's a difference, Mary Louise, between getting tough on China and doing it effectively and getting results. And so, yes, I think that the President Trump was right to take a tougher line on some of the egregious things that China has done and is doing that are counter to our interests and counter to our values. But I think the way that we went about doing it did not produce results. And I think if you're looking for how to do it and I think how to do it more effectively, is — whether we're looking at the relationship with China and looking at its adversarial aspects, if we're looking at its competitive aspects or we're looking even at its cooperative ones — the common denominator has to be approaching China from a position of strength, not weakness. And that strength comes from a few things.

It comes first and foremost from working in close coordination with allies and partners who may be similarly aggrieved by some of China's practices. When we're in the business of picking fights with our allies instead of working with them, that takes away from our strength in dealing with China. Similarly, being engaged, leaning in, showing up around the world is a source of strength. When we pull back from that, when we abdicate our responsibility, when we're not engaged in helping to write the rules and shape the norms that govern relations among nations, then guess what happens? China fills in and takes our place. That puts us in a position of weakness, not strength.

We're in a position of strength when we actually stand up for our values, when we don't say it's OK for China to create concentration camps for Uighurs in Xinjiang or to trample on democracy in Hong Kong. And of course, we're acting from a position of strength when we're actually investing in our own people and in our own technology so that we can be as competitive as possible.

The good news about all of those things is that they're actually within our control. These are things we can do. These are decisions we can make. And if we do them, that sets the foundation for engaging China, whether it's in an adversarial aspect, a competitive one or a cooperative one — from a position of strength, not weakness.
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