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Secretary Of State Described China As Biden's Biggest Political Test


The Biden administration has a lot of foreign policy challenges on its plate, from the conflict in Ethiopia and a coup in Myanmar to Iran's nuclear program and relations with Russia. But Secretary of State Anthony (ph) Blinken sees China as the biggest geopolitical test. NPR's Michele Kelemen explains why.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Secretary Blinken says he wants to lead a foreign policy that better serves Americans at home. And while he has a long list of crises to deal with, he says the challenge from China is different.


ANTONY BLINKEN: 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.

KELEMEN: He outlined his views in a speech Wednesday meant for the American public. Without mentioning Trump by name, he was clearly trying to turn a page from the last four years.


BLINKEN: Our relationship with China will be competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be and adversarial when it must be. The common denominator is the need to engage China from a position of strength. That requires working with allies and partners, not denigrating them.

KELEMEN: Real strength, he added, isn't bluster or bullying. Aside from China, his top priorities include fighting the coronavirus pandemic and working with partners to tackle climate change. Blinken said there's work to be done here, too, in the wake of the mob attack on the Capitol in January.


BLINKEN: Shoring up our democracy is a foreign policy imperative. Otherwise, we play right into the hands of adversaries and competitors like Russia and China, who sees every opportunity to sow doubts about the strength of our democracy. We shouldn't be making their jobs easier.

KELEMEN: His pitch is that America is better off with more democracies working together.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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