Blinken says France and the United States agree on the dangers of an emerging China


PARIS – Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken, speaking in an interview after a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, said the US and France were “on the same page” in their determination to resist the possibility of a Chinese-led world order that would be “illiberal in nature”.

On his first visit as secretary to France, where he lived nine years in his youth and attended high school, Mr. Blinken said “our aim is not to contain China” or “to try to curb China”. But when it comes to defending a free and open international order, we will stand up.

He suggested that the alternative was either lack of order – a world of chaos that “inevitably leads to conflict and that inevitably leads us in” – or Chinese domination. The challenge for democracies has been to “help their people and hopefully people around the world” in order to advance the model that in recent years has been challenged by internal divisions and increasingly authoritarian regimes.

“I found that President Macron was thinking exactly the same way and focused on the need to achieve practical results,” Mr Blinken said.

Mr. Blinken’s pleasure in returning to France was evident. At a meeting earlier in the day, the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, welcomed the minister as “Dear Tony” and said, “Welcome to your homeland.”

When asked about this, Mr. Blinken said, “Oh yeah, it’s a sacred home to me. I was here from the age of 9 to 18. I had a life-changing experience.”

After he said Thursday in Berlin that the United States “has no better friend in the world than Germany,” he said he would say the same about France. When he turned to the foundations of America’s oldest alliance, Mr. Blinken’s feelings were clear.

“It’s about something very basic,” he said. “You know, we put out a lot of words and say it kind of by heart. But at our best, our countries have worked to give meaning to freedom, equality and brotherhood. They have tried to give meaning to freedom of expression. They have tried to give meaning to human rights. They have tried to give meaning to democracy.”

He continued, “And in the end – there are obviously differences in culture, history and many things – but when it comes to a core set of shared values, there are a few countries that are closer.”

This was a highly personal call for France and the United States to renew their bond by standing together in a time of challenges, from the coronavirus pandemic to the rise of China, which represent “a necessity for cooperation, coordination and working together,” in the words of Mr. Blinken.

However, the convergence of American and French views came as a bit surprising as Macron made several remarks recently that insisted on the importance of Europe’s strategic autonomy.

Former President Donald J. Trump disparaged traditional alliances, started trade wars and resisted confronting Russian aggression. US allies have expressed relief that President Biden has returned US foreign policy to more familiar directions, but their experience with Mr. Trump has left them ever warned To follow in Washington’s footsteps.

Mr. Macron has sounded more conciliatory than the US toward China, insisting that Europe be at the negotiating table in arms control negotiations between the US and Russia.

eve set of 7 And the NATO meetings Earlier this month, Mr Macron said: “Unless my map has a problem, China is not part of the geography of the Atlantic” – a clear blow to NATO vis-à-vis China.

Such Gaullist assertions of independent French strategy tend to play out well here, and Macron plans to run in the presidential election next year. In the end, France joined the other great rich Democracies in the G7 In explaining that they see China and Russia as oppressive and hostile ideological competitors, other NATO members in saying that China presents “systematic challenges” to “military security-related areas”.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative It built roads, ports, railways, and communications networks throughout Africa and elsewhere, expanding Beijing’s economic and security influence with the countries that signed it, making it beholden to and Often burdened with debt.

Turning to the Biden administration’s attempt to counter China’s strategy with a “building back better for the world” program, called B3W, Mr. Blinken made clear in the interview that he believes the best option is for low- and middle-income countries.

“We provide something positive and affirmation,” he said. And it just so happens that what China is offering is not very positive and not very positive. Well, I think the contrast is clear.”

With China, he said, “there are always associated restrictions,” including “the use of vaccines as a coercive tool with other countries.” By contrast, the West has pledged one billion doses of vaccine to end the epidemic “without political restrictions.”

After six rounds of Nuclear talks with Tehran And there is no agreement to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which Trump abandoned, Mr. Blinken said progress on Iran’s nuclear program could become an insurmountable obstacle.

“If this continues, if they keep spinning more advanced centrifuges at higher and higher levels, we will get to a point where it will be very difficult in practice” to go back to the parameters of the original nuclear deal, he said.

“I can’t set a date on that, but it’s getting closer,” Mr. Blinken said of the day the Biden administration might pull out of the nuclear talks.

During a press conference earlier in the day with Mr. Le Drian, Mr. Blinken warned that there were continuing “serious differences” with Tehran over its nuclear program, but that preventing Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons remained in the US national interest.

At his meeting planned for next week in Italy with the new Israeli foreign minister, Yair Lapid, Mr. Blinken said that one of the goals was “to try to rebuild more trust and confidence between the Israelis and the Palestinians so that at some point the conditions are in place to actually move forward again in the negotiations.” for a lasting peace.”

Mr. Blinken said the Biden administration has strongly supported the Abraham Accords, made under the Trump administration, to normalize Israel’s relations with four Arab countries.

Referring to Israel’s last war with Hamas in GazaIn addition to the clashes in Israel and the occupied West Bank, he added, “But we also know – and I think we just saw evidence of that – that they are not a substitute for dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue.”

Michael Crowley contributed reporting from Paris.

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