Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel J. Kritenbrink On the Secretary’s Upcoming Travel to the People’s Republic of China and the United Kingdom – United States Department of State
JUNE 14, 2023
MR PATEL: Good morning, everybody, and thanks so much for joining us. This call will be on the record and embargoed until the call’s conclusion. This call will be to preview some upcoming travel for Secretary Blinken. This morning, we announced that the Secretary will travel to Beijing on June 16th. And at the conclusion of his visit to the People’s Republic of China, he will continue on to London to attend the Ukraine Recovery Conference.
And we’ll have more to share about that specific stop in the days ahead, but to discuss the visit to Beijing, joining us today are Dr. Kurt Campbell, Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific; and Ambassador Dan Kritenbrink, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
We’ll, of course, have some time for questions at the end, but let me first turn it over to Dr. Campbell.
MR CAMPBELL: Thanks very much, everyone, and welcome. I hope this is clear. We’re on an airplane. We’ve just left Delhi with Jake Sullivan, where we concluded very successful discussions with Indian friends in anticipation of the State visit next week, and we’re on our way to trilateral meetings in Japan. The purpose of this call is really to talk, though, about China.
At the start of this administration, the PRC was convinced that the United States was in terminal decline.
Around the world there were doubts about our staying power, our economic vitality, our commitment to our allies, and the health of our democracy.
And on China, we also inherited an approach that acknowledged the challenge that it posed but had not fully developed the tools to deal with it.
Much of that has changed over the last two years since President Biden came to office.
At the start of the administration, we surveyed the strategic landscape and assessed the challenge. Then we took a series of purposeful, strategic, integrated steps – both at home and abroad.
We were clear about what we planned to do, and we are doing it.
From the beginning, our approach has been consistent. We are in competition with China, but we do not seek conflict, confrontation, or a new Cold War. We are for managing the competition responsibly.
We have strengthened America’s ability to outcompete China by rebuilding the economy from the bottom up and middle out, by enhancing our ability to innovate, rejuvenating our industrial capacity, protecting our technology, and – critically – by deepening our relationships with allies and partners around the world.
Our approach has had a number of specific components.
First, we recognize the importance of a bipartisan approach, and we’ve sought to build bridges across the aisle on this challenge – many calls, lots of interactions, and deep dialogue with partners across the aisle.
Second, we’ve made historic investments to bolster manufacturing – including related to foundational technologies – to create good-paying jobs at home, and to support more resilient supply chains.
There are a couple of examples of that. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act have already catalyzed billions in private sector investment, and they are moving the needle.
Large-scale investments in semiconductor and clean-energy production are up 20-fold since 2019. We’re estimating $3.5 trillion in public and private investment over the next decade. And construction spending on manufacturing has doubled.
Third, we’ve deepened our alliances and partnerships abroad in ways that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
Again, a few examples. We launched the first-ever Quad leader summit involving the United States, Australia, India, and Japan – and we just held the fifth summit last month.
We inaugurated a new defense partnership, unprecedented – AUKUS – the first time in almost 70 years we’ve taken steps to provide an ally a nuclear-powered submarine capability.
We have strengthened our relationship with Southeast Asia, including through the President’s summits with ASEAN leaders, including the first-ever summit held in the United States.
We have also expanded our engagement with the Pacific with the President’s Pacific Summit last September, and we’ve invited Pacific leaders back to Washington later this year.
We’ve launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework with more than a dozen partners representing more than 40 percent of the global GDP.
We’ve deepened the U.S.-Japan alliance in ways hard to imagine. Japan is doubling its defense budget, providing access for exercises and training in its southwest islands, and acquiring key defense capabilities like Tomahawk missiles. Japan has made a commitment to take its defense spending to 2 percent.
We’ve deepened ties to the Philippines, our oldest ally in Asia. We’ve identified four new sites under our Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and expanded cooperation on issues from – on investment, clean energy, technology, and education.
We have strengthened our alliance with the ROK, including through greater cooperation on technology, and signed the Washington Declaration to strengthen American extended deterrence.
We’ve deepened our trilateral partnership with the ROK and Japan. And as we speak, we’re on the road to Japan to hold another session to strengthen that partnership further.
We’ve launched the U.S.-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies to elevate and expand our partnership with India in the technologies of the future.
And with Europe, we’ve made major strides. We’re seeing significant convergence between the United States, Europe, and key Indo-Pacific partners on our approach to China.
We launched the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council, the TTC, a partnership that is delivering for workers and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic, and taking on issues ranging from technology standards and export controls to non-market policies and economic coercion.
Early on, the United States and Europe suspended a 17-year long dispute between Boeing and Airbus and aligned our efforts to ensure a playing field and to push – a level playing field and to push back on China’s market distorting practices in the aircraft sector.
And the G7 came together around a simple formula codified just last month in Hiroshima: we are for de-risking, not for decoupling.
We’ve also taken steps to draw together allies and partners around the world to push back against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Through that effort, we’ve built new bridges between our alliances in Europe and in the Indo-Pacific.
Fourth, we’ve aligned with countries around the world to set the rules of the road for the twenty-first century. We’re working together to:
Protect sensitive technologies so they can’t be used against us and moving to reduce unwanted dependencies.
To ensure we have diversified, resilient, and secure supply chains in areas like critical minerals.
We’ve set high standard alternatives for development financing, infrastructure, and trade.
And we’ve moved to provide public goods related to the climate, environment, pandemic preparedness, and macroeconomic stability, among many other areas.
And fifth, we’ve pursued an approach to the PRC that is competitive without veering into confrontation or conflict.
We’re clear-eyed about the PRC. We know efforts to shape or reform China over several decades have failed. And we expect China to be around and to be a major player on the world stage for the rest of our lifetimes.
As the competition continues, the PRC will take provocative steps – from the Taiwan Strait to Cuba – and we will push back.
But intense competition requires intense diplomacy if we’re going to manage tensions. That is the only way to clear up misperceptions, to signal, to communicate, and to work together where and when our interests align.
After investing at home and strengthening ties with allies abroad, now is precisely the time for intense diplomacy.
This is not a strategic shift or something new to American statecraft. We have decades of experience talking to and even working with competitors when our interests call for it.
We are not going to take a step back from our interests and values or from securing an enduring competitive advantage.
In just the last few months, we’ve taken actions against the PRC entities involved in human rights abuses, forced labor, nonproliferation, and supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine.
We’re continuing – we’ve continued to uphold freedom of navigation in the region by flying, sailing, and operating wherever international law allows. And we’ll continue to take additional steps in the period ahead in economics, technology, security, and other arenas to advance our interests and values.
At the same time, there is nothing inconsistent with competing vigorously and talking with the PRC on a range of issues.
We have an interest in setting up crisis communication mechanisms to reduce conflict risk. The world expects us to work together on climate, health security, global macroeconomic stability, and other challenges. We can’t let the disagreements that might divide us stand in the way of moving forward on the global priorities that require us all to work together.
So we will seek to manage the competition and work together where our interests align from a position of confidence in ourselves and in the importance of consistent, clear, and high-level communication with other great powers.
Secretary Blinken’s trip will advance this approach, and we expect a series of visits in both directions in the period ahead.
Let me conclude by noting that there has been – noting that there has been a lot of speculation on what end state that we seek. But this competition is not going to resolve in a decisive, transformative state.
What we seek instead is a positive steady state, one where our interests and those of our allies and partners are protected.
MR PATEL: Thank you so much, Dr. Campbell. Let me now turn it over to Ambassador Kritenbrink.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KRITENBRINK: Thank you, Vedant, and thank you very much, Kurt. Good morning or good evening, everyone. Thanks for joining us today.
Building on Kurt’s comments, I’d like to say just a few words specifically about Secretary Blinken’s upcoming trip to Beijing.
This will be the first time that the Secretary has been to the PRC in his current role. This will be the first Secretary of State visit to China since 2018 and the first U.S. Cabinet visit since 2019. There is no substitute for in-person meetings, and, as Kurt said, the United States has deep experience talking with and even working with our competitors when our interests call for it. And as Kurt noted, intense competition requires intense diplomacy if we are going to manage tensions.
The Secretary’s trip builds on other recent engagements since President Biden’s meeting with President Xi in Bali, where they committed to keep channels open to, at a minimum, prevent miscalculation. As you know, the Secretary met in Munich in March with State Counselor – well, then-State Counselor Wang Yi. And National Security Advisor Sullivan also recently met with now-Director Wang Yi in Vienna. We also had Commerce Secretary Raimondo and USTR Katherine Tai’s recent meetings with the PRC Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao in Washington last month.
During this two-day visit, from June 18-19, the Secretary will have a series of meetings with senior PRC officials in Beijing. We do not at this time have more detailed information on the Secretary’s schedule, but we will provide updates as they become available.
Secretary Blinken has three general goals for his trip.
First, he wants to establish communication channels that are open and empowered – to discuss important challenges, address misperceptions, and prevent miscalculation – so as to manage competition that does not veer – excuse me – into conflict.
Second, as he always does, the Secretary will stand up and speak out for U.S. values and interests. He will raise clearly and candidly our concerns on a range of issues, and he will also discuss a host of regional and global security matters.
Third, the Secretary is committed to exploring potential cooperation on transnational challenges when it is in our interest – in areas such as climate and global macroeconomic stability. We also hope to discuss ways to increase exchanges between the American and Chinese peoples.
Our primary focus, again, is to have candid, direct, and constructive discussions on all three of these fronts.
I think it’s also important to note that diplomats on both sides have invested many hours preparing for these meetings, separately and in early rounds of face-to-face talks. That process is an essential component of our diplomatic communications, and we hope that these communications will facilitate substantive dialogue in the days ahead. Both on this trip and in the days that follow, we expect those discussions to continue – again, so that we can manage responsibly the competition between our two countries, because that’s what the world expects of us.
With that, let me stop there and we’ll be happy to take your questions.
MR PATEL: Thanks so much, Ambassador. Operator, could you please repeat instructions on how reporters may enter the question queue?
OPERATOR: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to ask a question, please press 1 and then 0 on your telephone keypad. You may withdraw your question at any time by repeating the 1, 0 command. If you are using a speakerphone, please pick up the handset before pressing the numbers. Once again, if you do have a question, press 1 and then 0 at this time.
MR PATEL: Thanks so much. Let’s first go to the line of Andrea Mitchell of NBC.
QUESTION: Thank you all so very much for doing this. Dr. Campbell, I wanted to ask you a few things. First of all, about the recent comments from an official in China that President Xi does not see U.S. eagerness as serious, sees it – the engagement as an illusion – clearly negative comments in the last 24 hours. Secondly, whether you believe, know that there is a chance, a better chance, of engagement because of China’s faltering economic recovery, the fact that they had to reduce interest rates in the last two days and that the recovery from the pandemic is not going as they needed it to go.
And then thirdly, about Cuba and the rest of Latin America and the regional – what China has, from my experience, frankly been doing for quite some time, not just recently – but the fact that we now see them trying to expand on their intelligence gathering from the island, as well as from other places in the region, which could be more specific about the timeline – because although we were told officially that this had proceeded and started in 2019, from my experience, it started well before that – and whether there is in fact a current plan and a current new agreement involving quite a bit of money that is badly needed by Havana to expand that and formalize that relationship, the intelligence gathering. Thank you so very much.
FULL BRIEF : Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel J. Kritenbrink On the Secretary’s Upcoming Travel to the People’s Republic of China and the United Kingdom – United States Department of State