‘Mixed Signals’: China Hints Secretary of State Blinken Doesn’t Know What He’s Doing

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during the announcement of former ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley as first the chief diversity officer in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department in Washington, DC on April 12, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / POOL / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP via …
MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese state media on Monday mocked U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken for sending “mixed messages” and bungling the Biden administration’s China policy, which is supposedly torn between rational recognition of China’s new global power and the need to “keep a hardline stance to respond to domestic anti-China consensus.”

China’s state-run Global Times said the befuddled Blinken at least knows better than to “adopt more aggressive steps in provoking China on its core questions like Taiwan,” so he has some idea of where China’s red lines are, and he knows “how dangerous it could become” if he provokes Beijing over an issue like Taiwan.

The Global Times hectored Blinken for “replaying an outdated blame game” on the coronavirus (in other words, Blinken thinks the Chinese government’s response to the pandemic was lacking) and for “smearing China’s policy on Xinjiang” by speaking of “genocide” against the Uyghurs, but then gave him a pat on the head for admitting “the U.S. cannot avoid cooperation with China.”

“Blinken’s words show that the Biden administration has yet to detach from the Trump administration in most areas, and there is no essential difference between the two administrations in terms of policy objectives and the definition of China’s role,” the Chinese paper concluded, citing a roster of “experts” who said Blinken and Biden are too timid to remove the last of the Trump administration’s ostensibly futile measures to contain China.

“The far-right and Trumpism still have a strong influence. The Biden administration’s tough talk is also motivated by domestic political interests,” the Global Times said, complaining of an “increasingly solid” anti-China consensus among U.S. politicians. 

Another Global Times editorial quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian marveling that any American politician would dare to criticize China “when the US government did so poorly in containing the outbreak and its failure in responding to the epidemic led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives in America.”

This was followed by a lecture in which Zhao presented China as the model of transparency, accountability, and compassion – a paragon of morality the brutal and dishonest Americans would do well to take lessons from:

Faced with the unprecedented epidemic, the Chinese government always put the people’s lives above all by adopting the strictest epidemic prevention and control measures and sharing information and experiences with others without reservation, Zhao said, noting that China has safeguarded the crucial line for epidemic control and prevention, giving more time for other countries to respond to the epidemic.

“Four words summarize China’s handling of COVID-19: open, transparent, scientific and responsible. But for the US’ response to the epidemic: blame-shifting, responsibility-shifting, smearing and politicizing,” the spokesperson said. 

Zhao, one of the first Chinese officials to float the deranged conspiracy theory the coronavirus is actually an American bioweapon that got out of control and migrated to China in the veins of visiting U.S. Army personnel, brought his pet theory back and asked how any Americans could dare to criticize China for human rights violations when so many burning questions remain unanswered:

“Also, I’d like to ask the US what it has done to its own ‘whistleblowers’ who sounded early warnings on the outbreak, including a Belleville mayor in New Jersey and health department officials in Santa Clara, California who said the outbreak might have occurred in the country earlier than revealed by its official timeline. What explanation does the US give on questions surrounding Fort Detrick and when will it plan to invite WHO experts for origins studies? There are things that should have done but have not been done, and questions should have been answered,” he said.

The Chinese Communist Party believes it scored a knockout punch against the Biden administration during its first official encounter in Alaska last month. China’s immense propaganda apparatus is wholly dedicated to hammering the point that a declining America under Joe Biden lacks the moral authority to criticize China for its handling of the coronavirus or its human rights abuses and lacks the economic or political clout to follow up on its criticism with any meaningful resistance to the Chinese agenda. 

As these Global Times editorials make clear, Secretary of State Blinken will not be allowed to mutter criticisms of China’s human rights abuses while he makes whatever concessions are necessary to “repair” the U.S.-China relationship supposedly damaged by the Trump administration.

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