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Biden to raise China and Russia ‘challenges’ in speech to US public days after Blinken visits Beijing

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 31/01/2023 Robert Delaney
  • American president described as rallying international partners in response to Ukraine war and eager to discuss global issues with domestic audience
  • State-of-the-Union address precedes trip to China by top US envoy intent on restoring regular bilateral dialogues

US President Joe Biden will discuss "challenges" posed by Russia and China in an annual speech next week, just two days after his top diplomat meets with counterparts in Beijing, a White House official said on Tuesday.

Biden "is a president who ... has really rallied [international] partners, particularly the Nato alliance, in response to Russia's war, and who has put so much effort into making sure that we're ready to meet across the globe the challenge posed by the PRC", said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, referring to the People's Republic of China.

"You can imagine that the president will want to have that discussion with the American people," Kirby added.

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The comments about Russia and China featuring prominently next week in Biden's State-of-the-Union address - airing during evening prime-time hours and aimed at the general public - came after a statement by Russia's foreign ministry that Chinese President Xi Jinping intends to visit Moscow.

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Beijing's refusal to condemn Russia at the outset of the war that started nearly a year ago was one of the reasons that Nato last year identified China as a "systemic challenge to Euro-Atlantic security" in the alliance's strategic concept - a key document that sets its military and security strategy for the next 10 years.

The speech itself follows on the heels of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's planned meetings in Beijing on Sunday, which will be the highest-level engagement between the two sides since Biden and Xi met on the sidelines of the G20 leaders' summit in Indonesia last year.

In addition to a discussion about Russia's war in Ukraine, Blinken will try to restore regular bilateral dialogues that Beijing had suspended in response to a visit to Taiwan in August by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among other objectives, Kirby said.

"One of the goals of this trip is to see about getting some of those vehicles restored and or revitalised," he said, because "this is the most consequential bilateral relationship in the world".

"There are certainly many other issues to raise and bring up with the Chinese", Kirby added.

"I know [Blinken's] looking forward to being able to address all those issues, and, of course, the war in Ukraine will be among those issues that we can expect the secretary to bring up."

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Kirby was silent on a new development in the Biden administration's efforts to restrict advanced hi-tech exports to China.

The spokesman declined to respond to a question about when any agreement between Biden and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on export controls would be signed.

The issue became a hot topic for the bilateral relationship following reports that the Netherlands and Japan had agreed to follow the US in restricting exports of advanced chip-making equipment to China.

It was not clear whether Chinese officials had confronted their US or Japanese counterparts on the issue, but they have apparently brought the matter up with Dutch officials.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang called on his Dutch counterpart Wopke Hoekstra to "jointly safeguard the stability of the global supply chain [and] promote an open and orderly international trade environment instead of a divided and chaotic one", according to a statement by the Chinese foreign ministry on Monday.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (, the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

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