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The United States does not have “the luxury of not dealing with China” as Beijing is “acting more aggressively abroad,” Secretary of State Tony Blinken said.
Speaking to CBS’ “60 Minutes” in a wide-ranging interview that aired Sunday night, the nation’s top diplomat made the remarks after being asked what the United States’ red line was with regard to Beijing’s behavior.
“There are real complexities to the relationship, whether it’s the adversarial piece, whether it’s the competitive piece, whether it’s the cooperative piece,” Blinken said.
The secretary of state was also asked about China’s intentions to become a hegemonic power, to which Blinken responded by noting the US’ goals are “not to contain” the Chinese Communist Party’s rise.
“I want to be very clear about something, and this is important. Our purpose is not to contain China, to hold it back, to keep it down,” he explained. “It is to uphold this rules-based order that China is posing a challenge to. Anyone who poses a challenge to that order, we’re going to stand up and defend it.”
Facing pushback from CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell on China’s aggression, Blinken conceded that he had never seen Beijing act in such an assertive way.
“No, we haven’t [seen that from China],” Blinken replied. “I think what we’ve witnessed over the last several years is China acting more repressively at home and more aggressively abroad. That is a fact.”
“I think that over time, China believes that it can be and should be and will be the dominant country in the world,” he continued.
As for whether the two global superpowers were headed toward a military confrontation, Blinken said he did not believe so, as it would hurt both nations.
“I think it’s profoundly against the interests of both China and the United States to get to that point or even to head in that direction.”
As for some of the aggression the world has seen from China in recent years, Blinken and O’Donnell specifically discussed the mass internment of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang province.
“We’ve made clear we see a genocide having taken place against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. More than a million people have been put into — choose your term — concentration camps, re-education camps, internment camps. When Beijing says, ‘Oh, there’s a terrorism threat,’ which we don’t see, it’s not coming from a million people.”
China, a nation that has faced a wave of international scrutiny over the past few years relating to its activities in Hong Kong and the mass internment of Uyghurs, has seen global tensions reach new heights amid its refusal to accept responsibility for a lack of transparency and negligence at the onset of the COVID outbreak.
As the virus grew completely out of Beijing’s control last year, Chinese Communist Party officials and state media went on the offense, praising the Communist regime’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic while mounting an aggressive effort to combat and redirect international condemnation.