Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US will defend the “rules-based” global order as he prepares for meetings in the UK and Ukraine, part of an effort to keep US allies united against China and show support for a crucial ally in the face of Russian aggression.
“Our purpose is not to contain China, to hold it back, to keep it down,” Blinken said in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” last week. “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.”
Blinken arrived in London and talks there started from Monday, including with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to lay the groundwork for President Joe Biden’s summit with Group of Seven leaders in June.
In Kyiv, Blinken will be stepping into another delicate moment for Ukraine and its supporters in the West.
The top US diplomat will test whether the Biden administration’s mantra of moving in lockstep with allies is any better
at achieving US goals than Trump’s more combative “America First” approach.
European allies have so far praised Biden’s focus on building a more predictable and cooperative relationship after the tumult of the Trump years. The administration has worked to coordinate action on key issues — such as sanctions against Russia over the poisoning of activist Alexey Navalny, and protesting the military coup in Myanmar — but those were non-controversial actions.
Nearly four months into Biden’s term, the stakes are rising. Biden’s team can no longer “treat success as not being Trump,” said Wess Mitchell, who served as assistant secretary of state for Europe in the Trump administration.
“The question is, are they going to deliver on the actual outcomes that the US needs from its European allies for countering China and Russia that require these allies to do things they don’t want to do — like increasing defense spending, killing Nord Stream 2, and evicting Huawei?”
Nowhere are the difficulties of Blinken’s job more clear than in the case of Germany, where outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to proceed with the nearly-complete Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia despite US objections that it undermines security in Western Europe.
Biden’s administration has vowed to fully enforce US law calling for sanctions against those helping build the pipeline — a move that would include punishing German companies. So far, the White House has put off any such move.
And while Germany has taken a tougher approach to China than before, it’s resisted US
demands to banish Huawei Technologies Co from its 5G
networks, and has sought more economic engagement with Moscow.