Antony Blinken, US President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for secretary of state, speaks on November 24, 2020. (Reuters file)
Antony Blinken, US President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for secretary of state, speaks on November 24, 2020. (Reuters file)

Outcompeting China a key focus area for Biden’s foreign policy team

Biden has vowed to return the United States back to engaging the world from a position of leadership, which had been relinquished by President Donald Trump, according to his critics.
By Yashwant Raj , edited by Vinod Janardhanan
PUBLISHED ON JAN 19, 2021 10:34 PM IST

Two of President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees will tell senators at their confirmation hearings on Tuesday that a key foreign policy and national security priority of the incoming administration will be to “outcompete” China, setting up the relationship as a rivalry between a democracy and an authoritarian state.

“We can outcompete China – and remind the world that a government of the people, by the people, can deliver for its people,” secretary of state nominee Antony Blinken will say, according to a leaked copy of his opening remarks as prepared for delivery.

Avril Haines, the national intelligence director nominee, will speak about the need for the intelligence community to “provide the necessary intelligence to support long-term bipartisan efforts to outcompete China — gaining and sharing insight into China’s intentions and capabilities, while also supporting more immediate efforts to counter Beijing’s unfair, illegal, aggressive and coercive actions, as well as its human rights violations, whenever we can”.

Other Biden cabinet nominees who began their confirmation hearings around the same time were Lloyd James Austin III (defence secretary), Janet Yellen (treasury secretary), Alejandro Mayorkas (homeland security secretary).

As Biden’s top diplomat and a close aide, Blinken’s testimony will be followed closely around the world. Biden has vowed to return the United States back to engaging the world from a position of leadership, which had been relinquished by President Donald Trump, according to his critics.

“Working across government and with partners around the world, we will revitalise American diplomacy to take on the most pressing challenges of our time,” Blinken will say.

“We’ll show up again, day in, day out whenever and wherever the safety and well-being of Americans is at stake. We’ll engage the world not as it was, but as it is. A world of rising nationalism, receding democracy, growing rivalry with China, Russia, and other authoritarian states, mounting threats to a stable and open international system, and a technological revolution that is reshaping every aspect of our lives, especially in cyberspace.”

“American leadership still matters. The reality is that the world doesn’t organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we don’t lead, then one of two things happen: either some other country tries to take our place, but probably not in a way that advances our interests or values.”

In her remarks, Haines will seek to restore integrity and trust to the intelligence community.

President Trump had made repeated attacks on the intelligence community, shaped in part because of his distrust of them on account of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which he believed was an attempt o delegitimise his presidency.

“The DNI must prioritise transparency, accountability, analytic rigor, facilitating oversight and diverse thinking — not as afterthoughts, but as strategic imperatives that bolster our work and our institutions,” Haines will say.

“To be trusted, the DNI must uphold our democratic values and ensure that the work of the Intelligence Community, mostly done in secret, is ethical, is wise, is lawful, and effective.”

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