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Blinken Trip to China Exposes American Weakness

Blinken Trip to China Exposes American Weakness

Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled the original planned trip to Beijing because there was a Chinese spy balloon floating over the United States’ top-secret military and nuclear sites.  Though authorities saw it coming to the western Pacific coast, President Biden did not allow it to be shot down until it had completed its mission and was passing over the eastern Atlantic coast.  Why Biden waited has never been satisfactorily explained.

The Blinken visit was rescheduled and recently completed.  In the aftermath of the high-level meeting – including a session with President Xi Jinping — one can only wonder why Blinken even bothered.

Generally, such high-level meetings have “take aways” – some achievable goals or mutual agreements.  They are usually negotiated in advance by mid-level diplomats.

With regard to the Blinken mission, there were no anticipated “take aways” – no likely areas of agreement.  And … none were achieved.  While there was nothing productive coming out of the meetings for the United States, there was damage.  There were a number of hot-button topics to be discussed between the United States and China – many of which were of keen interest to American allies.  In a sense, Blinken was representing more than the United States.

One of America’s key requests was the re-establishment of the direct phone line between the military leaders of each nation.  U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the direct contact was essential to avoiding a tragic mistake.  Xi rejected the request.

On the issue of the expansion of spy bases in Cuba, Blinken got no assurances – other than the implied assurance that those developments would continue.  There was no accountability for the Covid-19 Pandemic or admission by China that the virus had escaped from the Wuhan laboratory.  No promise by China to cease the provocative air and sea military brush-ups over the South China Sea – or the cessation of claims of hegemony over the waterway.  No promise to terminate the building of island military bases in recognized international waters.  

While Xi has responded negatively to Russian President Putin’s request for sophisticated military equipment for his invasion of Ukraine, Xi has expressed verbal support for the war and has been purchasing oil from Russia to help finance it.  Xi has also not restrained North Korea from sending military equipment – which he easily could do.  The Biden administration has been encouraging Xi to discourage Putin, but to no avail.  On the critical issue of the War in Ukraine, nothing changed.  

On the private sector side, there was no agreement from China to end unfair trade practices, theft of intellectual property and industrial spying.  No promise to stop setting up spy operations and “police stations” in the United States.  No pushback on China using money and exchange students to influence public opinion and spy.  Then there is the issue of Chinese-owned TikTok.  Nothing new to report.

In other words, the United States – and by extension, the world democracies – got nothing from the visit.  That is not true of China, however.  Following the meetings, Blinken made several statements in support of Chinese positions.  He declared that the United States recognizes Taiwan as part of China and opposes independence.  He declared that the spy balloon issue was “closed” – as long as they did not do it again.  There will be no repercussions.

The Blinken meetings have been billed as preliminary to an anticipated meeting between Xi and Biden before the end of the year.  If the Blinken meeting was intended to “set the table” for Biden, what is the benefit of a summit? – unless Biden is intending to pick up more money for the family.  

(Yes, that is a snide remark, but serves to remind readers of the larger role of the Chinese in buying influence.  You can bet that was not on Blinken’s talking points.)

To add insult to injury … at one point, Blinken was kept cooling his heels because of the late arrival of his counterpart.  In America, we are habitually late.  In China, however, lateness is strategic.  It is a cultural signal. (For the record, Xi did the same thing to Putin).

Like Biden’s surrender in Afghanistan … his too-little/too-late policy in Ukraine …  and his humiliating request for oil from the Saudi Crown Prince being refused … the outcome of the Blinken trip only makes America look weaker on the world stage among allies and adversaries alike.  If Blinken’s trip was the warm-up act for Biden, we should look forward to the Xi/Biden summit with trepidation – not optimism.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

2 Comments

  1. Tom

    Larry, I may disagree with you on the balloon thing. It could not be shot down over international waters. It was described as three stacked school buses large and dangerous to shoot down over land. I wondered about this. And then there was something about the altitude in that shooting it down may accidentally cause a plane accident as it was riding just above the altitude where planes fly. I do think there was opportunity to bring it down over Alaska but they were not sure about its contents.

    On Blinken’s trip, I seem to recall Blinken was trying to reschedule the trip after the balloon incident but Beijing was not answering the phone. So how is it you blame this on him or the Biden Admin? Blinken did manage to thaw the relationship some, and that is an accomplishment. Also, we do not know all that was discussed so any claim that we got nothing is suspect for bias.

    I am not sure what kind of miracles you are expecting of Blinken and the Biden administration. Seems to me that I remember this freezing of relationships happened under Trump with his economic tariffs policies and harsh rhetoric towards China. Every chance Trump could get he insulted China. Now you expect Blinken to be some kind of miracle worker. Now you suddenly expect the Chinese to just roll over to the USA. Fact is that we should have seen this coming way long ago. Deng said in the 1980’s “Hide your strength, bide your time.” This is an economic war strategy that we ignored so that we could all profit more in our 401K’s and other investments. We gave China “Most Favored Nations” status in the WTO and invited them in. All China has done is to walk through the doors that we opened. And now we expect Blinken and the Biden administration to somehow wave a magic wand and make it all better? Anyone who expects this is delusional!!!

    Fact is, I think China is making some very poor decisions today in the areas of world politics and world economics. Those chickens will come home to roost one day. All of the issues you mentioned are China’s core interests. But the CCP only has 70 years of world politics experience and is making typical teenager mistakes! What the Chinese response says is that China has no interest in discussing matters with the USA or the West. China is pursuing a social reforms over economic interests agenda, a back to Mao and communist fundamentals agenda which Deng showed did not work, he rejected it, and opened China. Xi is willing to sacrifice economics for political reforms and going back to a more Mao era China. China wants to dominate the Pacific and the USA, Australia, Western Europe, and to some degree India, are in China’s way. Most ASEAN countries fear China and are very unhappy with China’s behavior with regard to Economic Exclusivity Zones that China routinely violates. Those same countries want the US in the South China Sea. China wants to rewrite international accepted rules and norms in its favor and be the enforcer of new policy but latest Pew Research indicates a significant negative shift in world opinion of China.

    So you see, you may feel that Blinken got nothing. But sometimes that is the end result of negotiations. And nothing is the absence of something! So Blinken did get something, he got the absence of it.

    With this Xi regime in China, negotiation is a sign of weakness for those who approach China for negotiations. Had Blinken sunk to the level of negotiation, the Chinese would have thought much less of him and the USA. Blinken did the correct thing by sticking to our issues and asserting them. The only thing that will impress the Xi regime and get it thinking negotiations may be preferable is if the USA sticks to its interests, walks away from the table when the other side shows belligerence, and design systems to thwart Chinese industrial and economic aggression such as IP theft, industrial secrets theft. We must stay in the SCS to show China it cannot dominate the oceans and seas that all countries agree are international and not owned by any one country. We must stick to our Taiwan Agreement which Blinken did do!!! That was a win for Taiwan which is a win for us!!! We will never be able to fully decouple from China but we can de-escalate our dependence on Chinese products. That means paying a little more for American and Western made goods, working with Vietnam, Indonesia, and best of all lets work with Central America to make good there and get those people at our border back to their home countries and working again! And lets promote Western Europe doing the same and supporting the same. It is these kinds of actions that will send China the correct message and solicit the concessions you desire. My old commander said it best to me one day when he said, “Tom, when you got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow!”

    Right now China senses the infighting and social disagreements between both Dems and GOP. As an Independent, I am asking you and others to stop the infighting that China sees on our news, stop the name calling and harsh rhetoric that China hears you slinging at each other, heal the wounds that China knows you have given each other,, and join together (as China sees you cannot do right now) to send China the correct message. Do you think the GOP and Dems can muster up the balls to do this? Can both parties get together and create a single vision for the USA – this will scare the shit out of Chinese Dragon!

  2. larry Horist

    Tom .. You credit Blinken with some level of thaw in the relationship. And what to you point to as an example. Nothing was accomplished during the trip — and any gains seem to have been to the benefit of China. And you defense of gaining nothing as a negotiating victory is incredible. Most of you comment seems to deal with excuses for failure and rationalization for doing nothing, You vest breech of logic was defining nothing as something. LOL … That is almost as good as “it means what the meaning of is is.” And … I do not believe in miracles. Are you saying that for America to make gains in diplomacy, we have to rely on miracles? How about competence?

  1. There you go again raking up stories about obscure democrats who are of small consequence in the larger American political…