Blinken calls on China to stop “aggressive acts”

Blinken calls on China to stop “aggressive acts”

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Blinken calls on China to stop “aggressive acts”

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Blinken calls on China to stop “aggressive acts”

Posted 14 December 2021, 05: 16

The head of US diplomacy Antony Blinken on Tuesday called on China in Jakarta to cease its “aggressive acts” in the Indo-Pacific, in the hope of putting the emphasis back on this region at the heart of Joe Biden’s foreign policy.

Antony Blinken in Jakarta on 14 December 2021.

AFP “We are determined to ensure freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, where Beijing’s aggressive acts threaten trade in the amount of more than 2021 billions of dollars every year, ”he said in a speech on the leafy campus of the University of Indonesia.

During his first tour of Southeast Asia, which will also take him to Malaysia and Thailand, he also reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to “peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”, more than ever in the past. heart of extreme tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

The Secretary of State, insisting on his desire to strengthen alliances with states in the region, pledged to “protect the right of all countries to choose their own path, free from any pressure or intimidation”. “This is not a competition between an American-centered or Sino-centered region,” he pleaded, before however head-on criticizing the Chinese attitude. “There is a lot of concern, from North East Asia to South East Asia, and from the Mekong River to the Pacific Islands, about Beijing’s aggressive acts,” he said.

He accused China of “claiming open seas as its own territory”, of “distorting open markets through subsidies to its state-owned enterprises”, or even of “refusing exports or repealing agreements with countries it contests. policies”. “The countries of the region want this behavior to change. We too, ”he insisted. According to him, the American policy of deterrence aims to “prevent the American-Chinese competition” from degenerating into conflict “, because it would be” catastrophic for everyone “.

“Biggest challenge”

The region is seeing rising tensions in the South China Sea as Beijing claims almost all of this key area for trade, also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

A coincidence of the calendar or manifestation of the fierce competition between the great powers in this region? Antony Blinken’s visit to Jakarta coincides with that of influential Russian Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev. “Both the United States and Russia are good partners for Indonesia,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Monday. Moscow therefore remembers the United States as far as Southeast Asia, where the US foreign minister hoped to focus on his number one priority: the confrontation with China.

Antony Blinken has erected Beijing’s growing ambition on the world stage as “the greatest geopolitical challenge of the 21st century” and seeks the right balance between competition and confrontation. But since the summer, the Afghan crisis, the deadlock in the Iranian nuclear negotiations and more recently the tensions with Russia over Ukraine have continued to monopolize President Biden.

The strategy of the Democratic president does not differ fundamentally from that in force under the former Republican president of Donald Trump: it is a question of insisting that this Indo-Pacific region remains “free and open”, free from Chinese “intimidation”.

As Antony Blinken reaffirmed on Tuesday, the Biden team is trying to put more emphasis on the strength of its alliances – not without some hiccups as the nuclear submarines promised Australia affair has shown. , which earned him the wrath of France for losing a huge contract with Canberra.

The Secretary of State also insisted on the need to guarantee a “reliable” and “secure” internet against authoritarian regimes that want to restrict or control access, and on Washington’s desire to promote the “prosperity” of the region. “We will work with the countries of the region to provide high quality infrastructure,” he promised, in another thinly veiled criticism of Chinese projects considered unfavorable to local employment and the environment but harmful for the indebtedness of the States which benefit from it.


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