President Joe Biden's nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield has described China as a strategic adversary and a threat to its neighbours, asserting that her highest priority will be to push against Chinese influence in the Security Council.
The relations between the US and China are at an all-time low. The two countries are currently engaged in a bitter confrontation over various issues, including trade, the origins of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the communist giant's aggressive military moves in the disputed South China Sea and human rights.
At the United Nations, Chinese are undermining our valuesundermining our security, Thomas-Greenfield testified at her confirmation hearing held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday which was heavily dominated by questions from lawmakers on China.
She said that she will be working aggressively against Chinese malign efforts in New York."
China is a strategic adversary and their actions threaten our security, they threaten our values and they threaten our way of life. They are a threat to their neighbours and they are a threat across the globe. I have no doubts in my mind about that, Thomas-Greenfield said.
China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South China Sea with several countries. Beijing claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims. China has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region which is rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources and also vital to global trade.
China and India are also locked in a military standoff along the LAC in eastern Ladakh since May last year.
She was asked by Senator Todd Young, Republican from Indiana, on how she will use the power of America's voice in the Security Council to hold China accountable for its behaviour within the United Nations and beyond.
"I see that as my highest priority if I'm confirmed at the United Nations and that is to push against Chinese influence in the Security Council and it will mean working with our allies and bringing them on board and getting their support to push back against the Chinese and calling them out every opportunity that we have on their efforts to have greater influence on the United Nations and to bring a set of values to the United Nations that does not fit the organisation that we all support.
When asked that America is still dealing with the same litany of challenges with China, such as intellectual property, technology transfer, human rights abuses, as during the Obama administration, she said fighting against China was a high priority of the Obama administration.
The pivot to Asia was about addressing the situation with China. But how China is behaving now is very, very different than that period and they have become more aggressive."
She vowed to work with the Foreign Relations Committee to counter China at the UN, to fight against all efforts by the Chinese government to add harmful language to UN resolutions and to resist Beijing's efforts to overfill key UN positions with Chinese citizens, adding that she hopes to use her very strong relationship across the African continent to push back on China's self-interested and parasitic development goals in Africa and will urge those leaders to support American values at the United Nations.
When asked by Senator Ron Johnson, Republican from Wisconsin, on what kind of stronger language and tougher tactics will the Biden administration bring to deal with China, she said, the tougher language will be calling the Chinese out whenever we see them crossing lines, particularly as it relates to their aggressive tactics, both here in the United States and across the globe.
Not giving them a pass, but making sure that the US voice is heard clearly on any issue where we have concerns about the Chinese. It also may mean that we have to use other instruments that we have, including the possibility of sanctions, including the possibility of flexing our muscles.
"None of us want to encourage or support a conflict and that is not the intent here. The intent here is to encourage the Chinese to change their behaviour.
In her opening remarks, she said when America exerts its influence in accordance with its values, the UN can be an indispensable institution for advancing peace and security.
If instead we walk away from the table and allow others to fill the void, the global community suffers and so do American interest. In particular, we know China is working across the UN system to drive an authoritarian agenda that stands in opposition to the founding values of the institution, American values. Their success depends on our continued withdrawal. That will not happen on my watch.
She said China is a strategic competitor and poses challenges to American security, prosperity.
China has engaged in gross human rights violations and has authoritarian ambitions that go against our democratic values," she said and asserted that she is not at all naive about what the Chinese are doing and has called them out on a regular basis.
She also underlined the need to ramp up US efforts to improve American diplomatic presence to ensure that we have people on the ground who can counter China all over the world and that the State Department has all the resources it needs so that it can be more aggressive in its response to China's aggressive actions across the globe.
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