In an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes that aired Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China’s goal is to become the “dominant country in the world” and that President Joe Biden’s administration’s purpose is not to “contain” China, but to instead uphold a so-called “rules-based order” and keep China from undermining it.
In the interview, Blinken described China as “the one country in the world that has the military, economic, diplomatic capacity to undermine or challenge the rules-based order that we, we care so much about and are determined to defend.” Blinken then added, “But I want to be very clear about something, and this is important. Our purpose is not to contain China, to hold it back, to keep it down. It is to uphold this rules-based order that China is posing a challenge to. Anyone who poses a challenge to that order, we’re going to stand up and defend it.”
60 Minutes host Norah O’Donnell then said, “I know you say the goal is not to contain China, but have you ever seen China be so assertive or aggressive militarily?”
“No, we haven’t,” Blinken responded. “I think what we’ve witnessed over the last several years is China acting more repressively at home and more aggressively abroad. That is a fact.”
O’Donnell further asked Blinken what he views is China’s goal.
“I think that over time, China believes that it can be and should be and will be the dominant country in the world,” Blinken responded.
Blinken also went on to say he thinks a military confrontration with China is “profoundly against the interests of both China and the United States, to get to that point or even head in that direction.”
O’Donnell also asked Blinken about human rights concerns in China’s Xinjiang region, involving the mass internment of ethnic minority groups, like the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs. Blinken said, “We made it clear that we see a genocide taking place against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. More than a million people have been put into, choose your term, concentration camps, reeducation camps, internment camps.”
During the interview, O’Donnell also pressed Blinken to state what redlines the Biden administration would set against China.
“If Xinjiang isn’t a redline with China, than what is,” O’Donnell asked.
“Look, we don’t have the luxury of not dealing with China,” Blinken responded. “There are real complexities to the relationship, whether it’s the adversarial piece, whether it’s the competitive piece, whether it’s the cooperative piece.”
O’Donnell said China’s alleged theft of billions or even trillions in U.S. intellectual property “sounds like the actions of an enemy.”
Blinken said, “It certainly sounds like the actions of someone who’s trying to compete unfairly and increasingly in adversarial ways.”
Blinken then emphasized countering China with the help of like-minded countries. “We’re much more effective and stronger when we’re bringing like-minded and similarly aggrieved countries together to say to Beijing ‘this can’t stand and it won’t stand.'”