Tuesday, October 19, 2021

France and US agree on threats of an emerging China, says Blinken

Paris – Foreign Minister Antony J. Blinken said in an interview after a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron that the United States and France were “on the same page” in their determination to oppose the prospect of a Chinese-led world. Order that would be “highly lenient in nature”.

On his first visit as secretary of state to France, where he spent nine years in his youth and attended high school, Mr Blinken said, “Our aim is not to stop China” or “try to hold China back”. is.” But when it comes to defending a free and open international order, “we will stand.”

The alternative, he suggested, was either no order – a world of chaos that “inevitably leads to conflict and which almost inevitably brings us” – or Chinese domination. The challenge was for democracies “for their own people and hopefully for people around the world” in order to reinforce a model challenged in recent years by their own internal fractures and growing autocracies.

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

Mr. Blinken’s delight in returning to France was evident. In a meeting earlier in the day, the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, greeted the secretary as “My dear Tony” and said, “Welcome home.”

When asked about this, Mr. Blinken said, “Oh yes, this is a holy house for me. I was here from ages 9 to 18. I had a life-changing experience.”

After saying in Berlin on Thursday that the United States has “no better friend in the world than Germany,” he said he would say the same thing about France. Mr. Blinken’s sentiment was clear as he approached the foundation of America’s oldest coalition.

“It comes down to something very basic,” he said. “You know, we throw out a lot of words and we say them by rote. But our countries have worked to really give meaning to freedom, equality, fraternity. They’ve tried to give meaning to freedom of expression. He has tried to give meaning to human rights. He has tried to give meaning to democracy.

He continued: “And ultimately – obviously there are differences of culture, history, a lot of things – but when it comes to a core set of shared values, only a few countries are close.”

It amounted to a deeply felt personal call for France and the United States to renew their bond by standing together in times of challenges, from the coronavirus pandemic to the rise of China, which is currently “for cooperation, coordination, For, there is an imperative to work”. together,” in the words of Mr. Blinken.

Still, the convergence of American and French views was little surprising given that Mr Macron has recently made several remarks emphasizing the importance of Europe’s strategic autonomy.

Former President Donald J. Trump rejected traditional alliances, started a trade war and resisted facing a Russian invasion. US allies have expressed relief that President Biden has returned US foreign policy in more familiar directions, but his experience with Mr Trump has made it harder than ever for him to follow Washington’s lead.

Mr Macron has appeared more conciliatory towards China than the United States and has insisted that Europe should be on the table in arms control talks between the United States and Russia.

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On the eve of the Group of 7 and NATO meetings earlier this month, Mr Macron said: “Unless there is a problem with my map, China is not part of the geography of the Atlantic” – on NATO facing China a clear blow.

Such Gaullist claims of an independent French strategy work well here, and Mr Macron plans to run for re-election next year. Finally, France joined the other big, wealthy G7. democracy in In clarifying that he saw China and Russia as repressive and aggressive ideological rivals, and other NATO members, he said China presents “systemic challenges” to “areas relevant to military security”.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative has built roads, ports, railways and communications networks throughout Africa and elsewhere, expanding Beijing’s economic and security influence with countries that behold them and often deepen. are indebted.

Referring to the Biden administration’s effort to counter China’s strategy through a “Build Back Better for the World” program called B3W, Mr Blinken clarified in interviews that he thinks people in low- and middle-income countries should be able to fight back. is a better option.

“We are offering something positive and positive,” he said. “It so happens that what China is offering is not so positive and not so positive. Well, I think the contrast is clear.”

With China, he said, “there are always strings attached,” including “with other countries using vaccines as a coercive tool.” In contrast, the West was promising one billion vaccine doses “without any political strings” to end the pandemic.

After six rounds of nuclear talks with Tehran and no agreement to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Mr Blinken said the progress of Iran’s nuclear program could become an insurmountable obstacle.

“If this continues, if they continue to spin more sophisticated centrifuges at higher and higher levels, we will get to a point where it will be very difficult as a practical matter,” he said. To revert back to standards, he said.

“I can’t put a date on this,” Mr Blinken said of the day the Biden administration may be walking away from nuclear talks, but “it is drawing closer.”

During a news conference with Le Drian earlier in the day, Mr Blinken warned that “serious differences” remain with Tehran over its nuclear program, but that it is in the US national interest to block Iranian nuclear weapons capability.

In his planned meeting with the new Israeli foreign minister, Yair Lapid, in Italy next week, Mr Blinken said one objective was to “try to rebuild a little more trust and confidence between Israelis and Palestinians should conditions exist at some point.” to move forward again on negotiations on a truly lasting peace.”

Mr Blinken said the Biden administration strongly supported the Abraham Agreement, concluded under the Trump administration, that normalized Israel’s ties with the four Arab states.

Referring to Israel’s recent war with Hamas in Gaza, as well as conflict in Israel and the occupied West Bank, he said, “But we also know – and I think we have just seen evidence – that they Not an option to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian issue.”

Michael Crowley contributed reporting from Paris.

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