Blinken does Beijing

Students of ancient history may recall that when Secretary of State Dean Acheson spoke to the National Press Club in January 1950, he addressed America’s “defensive perimeter” in Asia. He defined the American “defensive perimeter” in the Pacific as a line running through Japan, the Ryukyus, and the Philippines. Acheson left South Korea and Taiwan outside it. Observers immediately decried Acheson’s speech as giving North Korea the “green light” to conquer South Korea.

I thought of Acheson’s speech yesterday when Secretary Blinken chose to reiterate in Beijing that the United States “does not support Taiwan independence” after meeting CCP officials including China President Xi Jinping. The State Department has posted the transcript of Blinken’s press conference here along with full video.

Blinken’s prepared statement comports with official American foreign policy stated here. It does not comport with President Biden’s vow to defend Taiwan from China if attacked, and Blinken’s statement seems calculated to disavow Biden’s vow. Indeed, enunciated in Beijing, it looks like a “green light” to me. Blinken appears to have gotten nothing from his meetings with Chinese officials and radiated nothing but weakness.

To the same effect, Blinken declared that the the United States should move on from the spy balloon incident that resulted in the postponement of his visit earlier this year. “That chapter should be closed,” Blinken said in an interview with NBC News before leaving Beijing. Why is that?

By contrast with my assessment, however, Walter Russell Mead writes in his weekly Wall Street Journal Global View column: “Mr. Xi’s meeting with Mr. Blinken indicates that the Communist Party is reluctantly accepting the new status quo rather than freezing relations and confronting the U.S. at every turn to force the Biden administration to change course.”

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