President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to head the State Department, Antony Blinken, during his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday afternoon lauded President Donald Trump for being “tougher” on China.
Blinken faced questions from members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the last day in which Republicans have full control of the panel, allowing them to lead the discussion.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) asked Blinken whether he agreed with some of the Trump administration’s “foreign policy accomplishments.”
In responding, the potential secretary of state noted:
President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China. I disagree very much with the way that he went about it in a number of areas. But the basic principle was the right one, and I think that’s actually helpful to our foreign policy.
“I think President Trump opened everybody’s eyes in terms of China’s malign intent,” Sen. Johnson pointed out.
Blinken’s comments about the outgoing commander-in-chief being “tougher” on China suggested the Obama-Biden administration was not as hard on the communist country as its successor Trump.
Nevertheless, he vowed in July that Biden would “engage China and work with China, in areas where our interests clearly overlap, including “climate change” and “global health” issues such as pandemics, Breitbart News’s Joel Pollak reported hours before the confirmation hearing.
Analysts, particularly Republicans, have accused the president-elect and Blinken, who has served by Biden’s side for decades, of being soft on China.
It appears that, at least during the confirmation hearings of several of Biden’s nominees on Tuesday, the upcoming administration claims it will now embrace an aggressive stance against China’s threat.
According to Pollak, as early as September, Blinken said it would be a “mistake” to “fully decouple” from China despite Beijing’s human rights abuses and other nefarious acts, as highlighted by the nominee during the hearing.
Blinken testified that China poses the most significant menace to the United States of any country in the world, noting:
As we look at China, there is no doubt that it poses the most significant challenge of any nation-state to the United States in terms of … the interest of the American people.
There are, as I see it, rising adversarial aspects to the [U.S.-China] relationship, certainly competitive ones, and still some cooperative ones when it is in our mutual interests.
The nominee also conceded to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) that China is committed to America’s downfall.
Do you have any doubt in your mind that the goal of the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] is to be the world’s predominant political, geopolitical, military, and economic power and for the United States to decline in relation?
“I have no doubt,” Blinken replied
The nominee indicated that the Biden administration would deal with China from a “position of strength.”
“We have to start by approaching China from a position of strength, not weakness,” he told senators.
Blinken noted that working with allies, investing in the U.S. military to ensure we can deter any aggression, and standing up to Beijing’s human rights abuses, among other things, will allow the U.S. to deal with China from a position of strength.
The potential State Department chief applauded several foreign policy achievements of the Trump administration during the hearing.
“I think there are a number of things from where I sat that the Trump administration did beyond our borders that I would applaud,” he said.
Blinken also welcomed and indicated he would build on the historic peace agreements brokered by the outgoing administration (Abraham Accords) between Israel and several Muslim countries, including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sudan, and Morocco, to help stabilize the Middle East.
“Now, there are certain commitments that may have been made in the context of getting those countries to normalize relations with Israel that I think we should take a hard look at,” he added.
Blinken also lauded the Trump administration’s accomplishment of normalizing economic ties between long-time rivals Muslim-majority Serbia and Kosovo, which have also agreed to establish full diplomatic relations will Israel,
The nominee also expressed opposition to some foreign policy moves by the Trump administration, including pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement, killing Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in early 2020, and continuing U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen, among others.