Biden’s Asia Czar Says China Is to Blame for Its Diplomatic Woes

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China has only itself to blame for a global backlash against its policies, the White House’s top official for Asia said.

“Over the last year or two the country that has done the most to create problems for China is not the United States but China,” Kurt Campbell, the U.S. coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs on the National Security Council said Tuesday at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security.

Campbell said the Chinese foreign policy establishment understands that the country’s policies, which include militarizing artificial islands and outcroppings in the South China Sea and a more assertive approach to global diplomacy, have helped to cause a global backlash against Beijing.

“But is that getting through to the most inner-circle in the Chinese leadership? I think that’s a question we can’t answer,” Campbell said.

China hit back at the comments Wednesday, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin saying: “In view of the U.S.’s hegemonic and bullying practices, China has to make necessary responses to safeguard its own interests.”

Here are Campbell’s remarks on other key Asia-related topics:

  • Xi Jinping is increasingly the single leader of China rather than being part of a “coherent team of leaders,” as past Chinese presidents have been. Campbell said there is a “smaller and smaller group” of people who help shepherd the Chinese president’s decision-making.
  • Asked about comments in late May when he said that China’s top diplomats Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi were “nowhere near, within a hundred miles” of Xi’s inner circle, Campbell said he had “great regard for both men. They are able representatives of China.”
  • The “Quad” bloc of nations, which comprises the U.S., Japan, India and Australia, is focused on “deepening” its cooperation ahead of a potential in-person meeting of leaders later this year, Campbell said. He added that other countries had shown “interest” in the grouping and that involvement wasn’t closed to others.
  • Campbell said the recent visit of a group of U.S. senators to Taiwan helped to demonstrate that the U.S. is “standing with Taiwan.” He said America is committed to continuing to provide defensive “articles” to Taiwan, but that the island also needs to take steps to strengthen its own defenses. Separately, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a Senate panel Tuesday that while attention focuses on “large weapons systems,” the U.S. “should focus on helping Taiwan strengthen its asymmetric capabilities like reserve force reform.”
  • Campbell said the situation in Myanmar was “deeply concerning” and “continuing to get worse.” He said that the U.S. is working with allies to tell the government that its actions have been counterproductive. It is “undeniable that violence is spiraling,” he said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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