In his first major foreign policy speech, Blinken called for revitalising US alliances and re-engaging international institutions to deal with China, which he described as the only nation with capabilities to "seriously challenge" the global order.
"Several countries present us with serious challenges, including Russia, Iran, North Korea. And there are serious crises we have to deal with, including in Yemen, Ethiopia and Burma, but the challenge posed by China is different," he said. "China is the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system, all the rules, values and relationships, that make the world work the way we want it to."
Blinken vowed to make the United States’ relationship with China "competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be."
The Secretary of State emphasised that "the common denominator is the need to engage China from a position of strength that requires working with allies and partners, not denigrating them, because our combined weight is much harder for China to ignore."
Blinken said such an approach requires engaging in diplomacy and in international organisations given that China has filled in where the United States has pulled back from.
"It requires standing up for our values when human rights are abused in Xinjiang or democracy is trampled in Hong Kong, because if we don’t China will act with even greater impunity," he added.
Blinken named the United States’ relations with China among top eight foreign policy priorities of the Biden administration. The rest are defeating the coronavirus pandemic, rebuilding the global economy, crafting a humane and effective immigration system, revitalizing alliances, tackling the climate crisis, ensuring US technological leadership and supporting democracies around the world.