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While Sullivan and Wang build ‘guardrails’: where is Mr Blinken?

By C K YeungMay 24, 2023, Pearls and Irritations

When US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met face-to-face with Mr Antony Blinken’s China counterpart Mr Wang Yi for eight hours in Vienna on May 10-11, a meeting both sides described as “constructive”, where was America’s top diplomat, Mr Blinken?

The Sullivan-Wang meeting not only makes US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s long-awaited China visit a distinct possibility but also paves the way for a meeting between President Biden and President Xi Jinping at APEC in San Francisco this November.

…………………. “Both sides agreed to maintain this channel between Director Wang and the National Security Advisor”, and “Both sides see that a channel between Director Wang and National Security Advisor is one means of managing that competition (between the US and China).”………………….

So where is Mr Blinken?

Not only does Blinken’s portfolio require him to be the top line of communication with China, but President Biden also specifically named him his China man after meeting with Xi Jinping on November 14 last year. “The two leaders agreed to empower key senior officials to maintain communication and deepen constructive efforts”, and “The two leaders agreed that Secretary of State Blinken will visit China to follow up on their discussions,” President Biden announced.

Mr Blinken failed to deliver on both fronts. He makes no secret that he is keen to visit China. But China gently shuts the door on him and looks the other way when he tries to talk.

As the US President’s chief foreign affairs advisor and fourth in line of succession to presidency, the Secretary of State wields enormous sway in US foreign policy. Played constructively, Mr Blinken can be the guardrails that keep Sino-US relations on track. But he chose destructiveness.

Actually China had been all set to roll out the red carpet for Mr Blinken. On January 17 this year, two months after the Xi-Biden meeting, a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesman said that: “We welcome Secretary Blinken to visit China and are in communication with the US on the specifics of the visit.”

But Mr Blinken hasn’t learned from the March 2021 Alaska talks, at which he got a lecture from his then China counterpart and Wang Yi’s predecessor Yang Jiechi, that the US is “unqualified to speak to China in a condescending way from a position of strength”.

After China’s “welcome” gesture, instead of creating favourable conditions for what could be a historic visit, Mr Blinken again resorted to his “position of strength” tactic during the lead up to his visit, reviving old issues and creating new ones to suppress China, including issues around the origin of covid, Taiwan, military base in the Philippines, NATO links with Korea and Japan, new export controls, new bans on Huawei – the list goes on.

………………………………………………………. Almost three weeks after the shoot-down [of the Chinese weather balloons], Mr Blinken still stuck to his “don’t let a crisis go to waste” mindset, escalating it further to denounce China for “Violating US sovereignty and international law,” while repeating the China threat narrative.

……… In stark contrast, Mr Sullivan’s spokesman Mr John Kirby said at a press briefing on February 16 at the height of the balloon hype: “We assessed whether they posed any kinetic threat to people on the ground. They did not. We assessed whether they were sending any communications signals. We detected none. We looked to see whether they were manoeuvring or had any propulsion capabilities. We saw no sign of that. And we made sure to determine whether they were manned. They were not. “

Back to Mr Sullivan. His statement after the meeting with Wang was all positive. The word “communication” was used 11 times, “productive” four times, “constructive” three times. The only adjective used to characterise US-China relations is “competition”, appearing eight times. All the usual suspects attached to China like “threats” “aggressive” “coercion” “confrontation” were used zero times.

…………………….“friends of China” do not exist in today’s US politics. Mr Sullivan is pro-China? You must be kidding. Same in Australia. People like Mr Paul Keating and Mr John Menadue have been painted red from head to toe by “white men’s media” for their China-friendly comments. But it is a joke to say Mr Keating or Mr Menadue are pro-China. They are true Australian patriots, 100 per cent pro-Australia. They treat China with fairness and reasonableness for no other reason than doing that is in Australia’s best interest. Lowering oneself to become a US spear for attacking China is in US interest and against Australia’s.

Mr Blinken will still have a chance to set foot in China before he steps down, as China would stand ready to honour the agreement with President Biden for such a visit to happen. But the top diplomat of any country who doesn’t have an open line of communication with Beijing cannot possibly be an effective diplomat.

Mr Blinken’s days as America’s top diplomat are numbered if President Biden is serious about having effective guardrails to keep the US-China relations on track.


May 27, 2023 - Posted by | politics international, USA

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