US says not trying to hold back China but set up a 'free and open' system
United States secretary of state Antony Blinken on Saturday insisted that the goal of the current Biden-Harris administration is not to hold back China but to support a "free and open system" based on standards established after World War II. Blinken called for allied nations of the United States to band in solidarity against challenges posed by an increasingly assertive China. "And I want to be clear on this, our goal is not to hold China back," he said, adding, "It is not to establish a policy against China. It is to support a free and open system based on the rules and standards that France and the United States established after WWII, and which have served us well."
The statements come in the backdrop of recent criticisms at the G7 and NATO summits against Beijing's ambitious political gambits. While the participating countries took out joint statements criticising the Chinese government over its recent controversial exploits in human rights, trade ties, and coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic cooperation, there have been marked differences in the trans-Atlantic partnership regarding how exactly to go about it.
The US prefers a hardline approach, calling out the Communist Party of China's lies at the outset, and it seemingly wants to take its allies down this road as well. In his interviews, president Joe Biden has described the US-China rivalry with an almost fantastic edge, framing it as a conflict of interest between democratic forces and autocratic regimes. On the other hand, its allies in Europe, particularly Germany, where chancellor Angela Merkel was instrumental in penning down an EU-China investment agreement deal, might not be too keen on openly antagonising China.
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The US administration realises that there is a disparity in approach, and has hence called for greater convergence among its allies. Even so, the gains made in the G7 summit seem to have bolstered US confidence in its allies, at least for now. In an interview with the office of the spokesperson in Paris, Antony Blinken said, "What I've seen, especially these last few weeks, is a convergence with regard to the approach to China and I think we see it the same way."
When asked about the reported difference between the US and its allies over China, Blinken simply said that the relationships that these countries share are too "complicated" to be effectively summed up in a single word or sentence.