The US must be prepared to “impose costs” on China for its bellicosity and threats toward Taiwan, as well its actions in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday.
Sullivan made the comments during an online discussion with Robert O’Brien, his predecessor from the administration of former US president Donald Trump, on the transition of power and US foreign policy.
The discussion was hosted by the Washington-based United States Institute of Peace.
O’Brien named China as the top foreign policy challenge being handed over to US President Joe Biden, citing its increasingly “assertive” approach to Taiwan, Hong Kong, the South China Sea and India.
In response, Sullivan proposed four steps the US can take to contend with the challenges that China poses.
The first step, Sullivan said, is to recognize that Beijing is making the case that the Chinese model is better than the US model, and is pointing to dysfunction and division in the US as evidence of this claim.
To combat this argument, the US must “refurbish the foundations of [its] democracy” by tackling social problems, such as racial and economic inequality, he said.
Second, the US would be most effective in advancing its vision for a free, prosperous and equitable society if it does so “in lockstep with its democratic allies and partners,” Sullivan said.
With its allies in Europe and Asia, the US can lead “a chorus of voices” that collectively represents more than half of the world’s economy, which would give it “leverage” to stand up to Chinese pressure, he said.
Third, the US must increase public investment in emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology and clean energy, as a great deal of the competition between the US and China would be decided by which country enjoys a technological advantage, he added.
The last step is for the US to speak with clarity and consistency in regards to China and other foreign policy issues, Sullivan said.
Specifically, this includes “being prepared to act as well as to impose costs for what China is doing in Xinjiang, what it’s doing in Hong Kong, and for the bellicosity and threats that it is projecting toward Taiwan,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a conversation on Friday with the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute, Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said that Taiwan-US ties were “off to a good start” under the Biden administration.
Asked about the widespread support in Taiwan for Trump, which put the nation at odds with many other democratic countries, Hsiao said that Taiwan’s government “never takes a position on domestic US politics.”
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