U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has named Beijing’s “blatant economic coercion” against Australia as one example of the three most urgent threats the world faces today.

Speaking at NATO headquarters in Belgium on March 24, Blinked noted that Beijing posed a growing military and non-military threat that could no longer be ignored.

“Beijing’s military ambitions are growing by the year,” Blinken said, while outlining the first major threat. “Coupled with the realities of modern technology, the challenges that once seemed half a world away are no longer remote.”

“There’s no question that Beijing’s coercive behavior threatens our collective security and prosperity and that it is actively working to undercut the rules of the international system and the values we and our allies share,” he went on to say, while outlining the second major threat.

He gave the example of “China’s blatant economic coercion of Australia” as an aggressive non-military action that he says threatens “not only our individual countries, but also our shared values.

He noted that both China and Russia were complicit in these kinds of activities which focused on utilising technological, economic, and informational tactics. Blinken gave the example of actors spreading disinformation and weaponizing corruption to fuel distrust in our democracies.

His comments come after a year of Beijing retaliating against Australia with economic sanctions, and rhetoric after Foreign Minister Marise Payne called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the CCP virus.

Since then, at least eight Australian export sectors have been banned by Beijing, including coal, barley, lobster, cotton, timber, beef, lamb, and wine.

The third threat Blinken outlined was the global challenge posed by climate change and the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.

Blinken noted that the global challenges resulting from the CCP virus were a further threat to security and showed that the world needed to work together to resolve similar crises.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has made abundantly clear, our health security is intertwined, and only as strong as our weakest link,” Blinken said.

However, he noted that on the threats posed by the virus, no one country was to blame.

But the United States has previously said that Beijing does bear responsibility for failing to contain the CCP virus within its borders. Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo specifically criticised the Chinese regime for allowing flights to leave Wuhan during the early outbreak to travel to other countries, including America.

Further, research has shown that the spread of the CCP virus to other countries could have been critically slowed down had the Chinese regime not withheld and suppressed vital information in the early days of the outbreak in 2020.

American Alliances Key to Stability

The major policy speech delivered by the new Secretary of State also allowed Blinken to focus on America’s alliances, outlining what allies can expect from the United States, and what the U.S. government under the Biden-Harris administration expects in return.

Blinken noted that although the threat landscape had changed since many alliances were formed, those alliances were needed now more than ever.

“The world looks very different than it did decades ago, when we forged many of our alliances—or even than it did four years ago,” he said. “Threats have multiplied. Competition has stiffened. Power dynamics have shifted. Trust in our alliances has been shaken—trust in each other and trust in the strength of our commitments.

“Yet none of this changes the fact that we need alliances—now as much and maybe even more than ever. The challenge we face is to adapt and renew those alliances so that they can meet today’s threats, and continue to deliver for our people now, as they have in the past,” he said.

He went on to say he believed that alliances and partnerships needed to be brought together because the more that countries with complementary strengths and capacities can unite to achieve shared goals, the better.

“That’s the idea behind the group of countries we call “the Quad”—Australia, India, Japan, and the United States,” he said. “We share a vision of a free, open, inclusive, and healthy Indo-Pacific region, unconstrained by coercion and anchored by democratic values. We make a good team. And our cooperation will strengthen parallel efforts to ensure security in the East and South China Seas and to expand safe, affordable, and effective vaccine production and equitable access.”

But he noted that the Biden-Harris administration would respect differences of opinion on China among allies.

“The United States won’t force our allies into a “us or them” choice with China,” Blinken said.

“But we need to navigate these challenges together,” he said. “That means working with our allies to close the gaps in areas like technology and infrastructure, where Beijing is exploiting to exert coercive pressure. We’ll rely on innovation, not ultimatums.

“Because if we work together to make real our positive vision for the international order—if we stand up for the free and open system that we know provides the best conditions for human ingenuity, dignity, and connection—we’re confident that we can outcompete China or anyone else on any playing field,” he said.

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