Secretary of State Antony Blinken told 60 Minutes in an interview that aired Sunday the United States is not trying to “contain China, to hold it back, to keep it down,” but rather uphold the “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.”
China, Blinken said, is “the one country in the world that has the military, economic, diplomatic capacity to undermine or challenge the rules-based order that we care so much about and are determined to defend.” When asked by interviewer Norah O’Donnell if he’s ever seen China be “so assertive or aggressive militarily,” Blinken responded no, and over the last few years, he’s witnessed China acting “more repressively at home and more aggressively abroad. That is a fact.”
China, which has the world’s largest Navy, has three new warships patrolling the South China Sea and is flying jets over the western Pacific Ocean. O’Donnell asked Blinken if he believes the U.S. is heading towards a military confrontation with China. “I think it’s profoundly against the interests of both China and the United States to get to that point, or even head in that direction,” he replied.
Blinken was on the line during President Biden’s first phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and said Biden “made clear that in a number of areas we have real concerns about the actions that China has taken, and that includes in the economic area and … the theft of intellectual property.” O’Donnell brought up estimates that China’s gross domestic product could surpass the U.S. as early as 2008, and Blinken said that even if China becomes the world’s wealthiest country, that won’t necessarily translate to it becoming the world’s most powerful.
“A lot depends on how it uses that wealth,” he continued. “It has an aging population. It has significant environmental problems. … But here’s the way I think about it, writ large, if we’re talking about what really makes the wealth of a nation, fundamentally it’s its human resources and the ability of any one country to maximize their potential. That’s the challenge for us, it’s the challenge for China. I think we’re in a much better place to maximize that — that human potential — than any country on Earth, if we’re smart about it.” Catherine Garcia