Shaping a “Credible, Lovable, Respectable” China? Blinken: Beijing May Realize War Wolf Diplomacy Backfires

U.S. Secretary of State John Blinken said Monday (June 7) that China may be aware that its “war-wolf style” foreign policy is pushing the world further away, rather than attracting more support. However, Blinken also stressed that he is not sure of the real motives and reasons for China’s desire to project a “credible, likable and respectable” image. At the same time, Blinken also hinted to Congress about the possibility that the United States would restart trade talks with Taiwan.

China’s “war-wolf diplomacy” of recent years, which has been characterized by an assertive posture, has resulted in growing diplomatic tensions with more and more countries around the world. Chinese President Xi Jinping, presiding over a group study of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee late last month, asked officials to strive to project a “credible, lovable and respectable” image and to “tell a good Chinese story” while emphasizing the need to focus on the tone in foreign propaganda. “Humble and modest”.

Xi’s statement was immediately discussed and followed by all walks of life: Will China change its “war wolf diplomacy” and other aggressive words and actions? Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) of Tennessee raised the question with Secretary Blinken, who testified at a hearing Monday on the U.S. State Department budget for fiscal year 2022.

“President Xi recently asked his staff to focus on portraying a ‘credible, lovable,’ — which is kind of funny — and ‘respectable’ image of China. Does this statement mark the end of the Chinese Communist Party’s war-wolf diplomacy? Why did he change tactics so abruptly?” Borchert asked Blinken via video message Monday.

“I can’t speak for what President Xi or the rest of them think,” Blinken replied, “but there is a possibility that this could well mean that China has also come to the conclusion that soft power is also quite important.”

“The way they are engaging around the world is causing more and more people to be alienated from them rather than attracted to them. So that may be showing recognition to that. Having said that, I don’t want to draw any definitive conclusions for them, I can’t know what’s in their minds.”

Blinken again criticizes opaque information on China outbreak

In an exclusive interview with Axio News on Sunday (June 6), Blinken reiterated “the U.S. decision to go ‘completely’ after the source of the new coronavirus, while holding China accountable.” At Monday’s online hearing, a number of lawmakers from both parties also offered their support for the Biden administration’s decision to track down the origin of the new coronavirus.

Blinken addressed the topic again during the hearing and harshly criticized the Chinese government for its severe lack of transparency in the investigation into the origins of the new coronavirus outbreak.

“Unfortunately, and more unfortunately, what we’ve seen from the People’s Republic of China is that they have failed from the beginning of this crisis to meet their basic responsibility to share information, to provide access and to do these things transparently in real time,” Blinken said at the hearing, “and that was the case at the beginning , and unfortunately, that’s still true today.”

Blinken went on to say that there are now growing calls from all sides, including the World Health Organization, for China to be open and transparent in providing information about the origins of the outbreak.

“There is a strong resonance now insisting that China should deliver on its promise that it has a responsibility to provide information,” Blinken said.

Blinken hints at restarting U.S.-Taiwan trade talks

Under questioning from Republicans, Blinken hinted at the possibility of resuming U.S.-Taiwan trade and investment talks, which have been stalled since the Obama administration. However, Blinken did not specify whether he would be willing to discuss a comprehensive trade agreement that the Taiwanese government would like to reach.

Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), a Republican U.S. Representative from Kentucky, asked Blinken during the hearing, “Taiwan lifted its ban on certain pork imports from the United States and wants a more definitive trade agreement with the United States. I believe that deepening trade relations with Taiwan is critical to counteracting China’s malign influence. May I ask Mr. Secretary what position the administration holds on a bilateral trade agreement with Taiwan?”

“I would have to suggest that you ask U.S. Trade Representative Dyche, but I know that we are in dialogue with Taiwan on the issues, or will soon be in dialogue on some form of agreement, and those conversations should already be underway,” Blinken responded.

Blinken did not give further details. The agreement and discussions are expected to spark a backlash from Beijing.

A spokeswoman for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said strengthening ties with Taiwan is quite important, but at this moment “we don’t have any meetings to announce,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

According to total U.S. trade data for 2020, Taiwan is the 10th largest trading partner of the United States. Taiwan is also a major source of semiconductors for the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, total U.S. imports from Taiwan last year were $60 billion, including $7 billion in chips and $20 billion in other computer and telecommunications equipment, twice the amount of U.S. exports to Taiwan.

While relations between Washington and Beijing continue to be at an impasse, cooperation between Washington and Taipei continues to heat up.

Three cross-party members of Congress, including Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) of the Foreign Affairs Committee, made a whirlwind visit to Taiwan from South Korea on Sunday and announced that the United States will provide 750,000 doses of New Crown vaccine to Taiwan as part of President Biden’s plan to share tens of millions of doses worldwide to fight the New Crown virus pandemic.

The sudden rebound of the New Crown outbreak in Taiwan in late April caught authorities off guard and the vaccine was urgently needed.

Blinken said at the hearing that the U.S. is actively providing New Crown vaccine to places, including Taiwan.

“I think things will be moving in the next few days, certainly in the next two weeks,” Blinken said, “and we’re committed to sending 80 million doses of the vaccine out by the end of this month or early July, but the first 25 million should start going first soon. Obviously, we want to make sure we can do that safely and effectively, but you know, it’s not a simple job to ship those vaccines. But I think we should definitely see progress soon within the next few days, a few weeks.”