U.S. Secretary of State John Blinken speaks out again in solidarity with Australia, an ally suffering from Chinese retaliation. He said the United States will not leave Australia alone in the face of Chinese economic coercion, and that China’s treatment of its U.S. ally will hinder the improvement of U.S.-China relations.
Blinken made the comments at a joint press conference with Australian Foreign Minister John Payne, who was visiting the United States on Thursday (May 13). It was another clear statement by a senior U.S. official that the United States stands with its allies in dealing with Chinese coercion.
President Biden has repeatedly criticized Beijing’s coercion of Australia and Canada since taking office, linking Beijing’s cessation of such practices to improved U.S.-China relations.
In March, Campbell, the White House National Security Council’s coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs, made clear that the United States “will not leave Australia behind” and that it would not materially improve relations with China unless the Australia-China trade and economic dispute was resolved.
I reiterate that the United States will not leave Australia behind, or perhaps I should say, alone, to face Chinese economic coercion,” Blinken said.
“We have made clear to the PRC why actions against our closest partner and ally would harm the improvement of our relationship with China,” Blinken said. “PRC” is an acronym for People’s Republic of China.
Relations between Australia and China began to deteriorate rapidly last April after Australian Prime Minister Morrison issued a call to the international community to launch an independent investigation into the source of the new coronavirus. Beijing launched a massive retaliatory measure against Australia, with boycotts and restrictions on many Australian exports to China, including barley, logs, wine, beef, coal, iron ore, seafood and more.
More recently, China’s National Development and Reform Commission has notified the Australian side of a temporary suspension of the bilateral Strategic Economic Dialogue. Australian officials say Australian trade officials have been unable to reach Chinese officials since relations between the two countries deteriorated in 2020, and calls made by the Australian side have gone unanswered.
Australia’s decision last month to cancel two trade agreements signed between Victoria and China related to China’s proposed Belt and Road Initiative came after China cut off all dialogue channels between the two countries.
Payne also met with U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan, climate envoy John Kerry and Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, during his visit to the United States.
At the press conference, Payne said Australia’s position is clear that it wants a constructive relationship with China, but, she said, “we will not compromise on our national security or our sovereignty, and we will continue to act to protect our security and our sovereignty.”
“That’s what allies should do with each other,” Blinken said. “We support each other and we face threats and challenges together by virtue of our collective strength.”
Similar to what has happened between the U.S. and China, Australia and China have been at odds over a number of major issues as China has tried to exert pressure through trade and influence, the AP said.
Blinken said there are deep-rooted shared values between the United States and Australia, and no country, including China, can destroy that relationship.
Both Blinken and Payne said it is vital to confront China with a united stance. They called for a more thorough and comprehensive investigation into the source of the pandemic New Coronavirus that first broke out in China and then spread globally.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Friday (May 14) responded to Blinken’s comments in support of Australia, calling it “coercive diplomacy” by the United States.
She said coercion “is the strength and characteristic of the United States” and that “whether it is Alstom in France, Toshiba and Toyota in Japan, the aerospace industry in the former Soviet Union, or now the Chinese telecommunications industry and some other high-tech industries, they are all victims of U.S. economic coercion. ”