Washington was not trying to "contain" China, US State Secretary Anthony Blinken said, but warned that Beijing was acting in "increasingly adversarial" ways.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken harshly criticized China on Sunday, saying the country was acting "more repressively at home and more aggressively abroad." Blinken made the remarks during his "60 Minute" interview on CBS News.
When asked whether the US was heading towards a military confrontation with Beijing, Blinken said, "It's profoundly against the interests of both China and the United States to, to get to that point, or even to head in that direction."
US President Joe Biden's administration has identified competition with China as one of their greatest foreign policy challenges.
The Biden administration said on Friday that China had not fulfilled its promises to protect American intellectual property in the "Phase 1" US-China trade deal signed last year. In his interview, Blinken said the administration had "real concerns" about the issue.
He said China was trying to compete unfairly and in "increasingly adversarial" ways. "But 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,'" he added.
The US would continue to maintain their military presence in the Indo-Pacific region, Blinken said. However, he denied Washington was trying to "contain China."
Meanwhile, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was becoming increasingly difficult to reconcile differences with China.
"It will not have escaped the attention of anyone here that as China's role in the world grows and changes, the differences between our systems — and the interests and values that shape those systems — are becoming harder to reconcile," she said while speaking at the China Business summit in Auckland on Monday.
Ardern also said that some Indo-Pacific nations as well as Europe and other countries were facing this challenge. She said New Zealand and China "can not, do not, and will not" agree on certain things, but this need not define their relationship. China is New Zealandlargest trading partner.
China has accused the Five Eyes alliance (which includes New Zealand, Australia, Britain, Canada and the US) of ganging up against them by issuing statements on Hong Kong and the treatment of ethnic Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
New Zealand's foreign minister expressed apprehensions about the Five Eyes moving beyond the group's purpose, of sharing intelligence. The country has been under pressure from its allies for not talking a tougher stance regarding Beijing.
While Ardern expressed solidarity with the other nations over the issue of China, she also made it clear that New Zealand would decide its own policy. "I'm often asked which lane are we swimming in — we swim in New Zealand's lane," she said.
The country's parliament is set to table a motion that could declare China's oppression of the Uyghurs as an act of genocide on Tuesday, albeit a motion put forward by the opposition not Ardern's government.
In another signal of trouble in the region, Australia will be reviewing the 99-year lease of a commercial and military port in Darwin to a Chinese firm, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald. The report comes less than two weeks since Australia nixed two small Belt and Road deals, prompting an outrage response from Beijing.
tg/dj (dpa, AFP, Reuters)