The Hill

Blinken’s Trouble in Beijing Is Part of China’s Longstanding Strategy

Senior Fellow and Director, China Center
Blinken’s Trouble in Beijing Is Part of China’s Longstanding Strategy
Secretary of State Antony Blinken follows Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on April 26, 2024. (Photo by Mark Schiefelbein/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Once again, Secretary of State Antony Blinken went to China with serious matters to discuss with Chinese Communist leadership — and came home empty handed.

Since the Nixon era, the United States and China have engaged in a dance of diplomacy marked by a fundamental dissonance in conflict resolution strategies. The U.S. is driven by a pragmatic, transactional approach focused on resolving specific issues. China adopts a morally charged, ideologically rooted stance. It leverages each negotiation as a platform to assail America’s global influence and foundational values and to promote the Chinese Communist Party’s imperious guidance to a world gone wrong and in need of “Xi Jinping Thought.” This dissonance has perpetuated a cycle of engagement without resolution, posing a grave threat to global stability.

The American approach to conflict resolution is straightforward: identify problems, negotiate solutions and implement agreements. It’s a process rooted in pragmatism, aiming to address immediate challenges while preserving broader strategic interests.

But China’s strategy diverges drastically. For China, negotiations serve not as a means to resolve issues but as a stage to undermine America’s reputation and leadership. Every entreaty for cooperation becomes an opportunity for moral posturing, casting America as the antagonist in a narrative of victimhood and oppression.

Time and again, this pattern has played out in critical moments of bilateral relations. From Tiananmen to the Taiwan Strait Crises, from trade wars to Covid origins investigations, China’s strategy remains consistent: deflect, discredit and dominate. Even when pressed on specific issues, China deftly shifts the narrative, leveraging the “Taiwan card” ad nauseum to derail negotiations and maintain the upper hand.

This asymmetry in conflict resolution is the lynchpin of U.S.-China relations, perpetuating a cycle of engagement devoid of meaningful progress. To break free from this quagmire, America must confront China’s ideological hostility head-on. No longer can we afford to engage in clandestine discussions, feigning ignorance of the CCP’s broader agenda and its unshakable anti-American ideological conviction. The competition between the U.S. and China transcends mere governance; it’s a clash of ideologies and political systems — freedom versus tyranny, market versus command economy, rules versus revanchism.

The path forward demands courage and clarity. We must publicly challenge China’s moral posturing, hypocrisy and propaganda, exposing its true intentions to the world. It’s time to strip away the veneer of diplomatic niceties and confront the ideological underpinnings of our conflict. Failure to do so only emboldens China’s aggressive agenda and undermines the very principles we hold dear.

The urgency of this task cannot be overstated; time is not on the side of the righteous. Indecision allows China to further entrench its narrative, eroding the foundations of global order. To secure a future of freedom and democracy, we must act decisively, confronting the CCP’s bankrupt ideology and habit of mendacity with unwavering resolve.

Read in The Hill.