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Blinken warns China, Russia about military action

POLITICO logo POLITICO 4/11/2021 By David Cohen
Tony Blinken wearing a suit and tie: Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke of the need for the U.S. to lead the world toward full vaccination. © Al Drago/Pool via AP Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke of the need for the U.S. to lead the world toward full vaccination.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday said "it would be serious mistake" for China to strike at Taiwan and expressed "real concerns" about Russia's massing of forces on the border with Ukraine.

In addressing concerns about America's two great Cold War rivals, Blinken stopped short of promising U.S. military intervention — "I'm not going to get into hypotheticals" — but did vow there would be "consequences."

Speaking to host Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press," Blinken said of Chinese belligerence toward Taiwan, "We have a commitment to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act, a bipartisan commitment that's existed for many, many years, to make sure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself, and to make sure that we're sustaining peace and security in the Western Pacific. We stand behind those commitments.

"And all I can tell you is it would be a serious mistake for anyone to try to change the existing status quo by force," he said.

China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory, something that has been the case since Mao Zedong's revolution took over China in 1949 and the remnants of the old Nationalist regime fled to Taiwan, where they and their successors have been a thorn in China's side for decades.

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A similar dynamic has existed between Russia and Ukraine in recent years. Ukraine became an independent nation in the 1990s after the Soviet Union was dissolved. Vladimir Putin's Russian government seized the region of Crimea in 2014, and there has fighting along the border for years now.

"As we speak right now," Blinken told Todd, "I have to tell you I have real concerns about Russia's actions on the borders of Ukraine. There are more Russian forces massed on those borders than at any time since 2014 when Russia first invaded. That's why we're in very close contact, in close coordination, with our allies and partners in Europe."

He added: "President Biden's been very clear about this. If Russia acts recklessly, or aggressively, there will be costs, there will be consequences."

In the wide-ranging interview, Blinken also said he expects the United States "to be the world leader on helping to make sure that the entire world gets vaccinated."

Describing U.S. efforts to increase cooperation on the development and distribution of vaccines, Blinken said there would be costs to America if the world is not protected against Covid.

"Unless and until the vast majority of people in the world are vaccinated, it's still going to be a problem for us," he said. "Because as long as the virus is replicating somewhere, it could be mutating, and then it could be coming back to hit us."



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