China will pay a price for its human rights abuses, US President Joe Biden warned on Tuesday, responding to queries at a televised event on the Asian nation`s handling of Muslim minorities in its far western region of Xinjiang. Chinese President Xi Jinping has drawn global criticism for holding the minority Uighurs in internment camps and other human rights abuses.
“Well, there will be repercussions for China and he knows that,” Biden said of Xi when pressed on the issue at the town hall event televised on broadcaster CNN.
The United States will reassert its global role in speaking up for human rights, Biden said, adding that he would work with the international community to get China to protect them. “China is trying very hard to become a world leader and to get that moniker and be able to do that they have to gain the confidence of other countries,” Biden said on his first official trip since taking office as president in January.
“As long as they are engaged in the activity that is contrary to basic human rights, it is going to be hard for them to do that,” he added. In a two-hour phone call with Xi in February, Biden emphasized the US priority of preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region, where the United States and China are major strategic rivals.
He also voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and rights issues, such as its Hong Kong crackdown, the Xinjiang internments, and increasingly assertive actions in Asia, including toward Taiwan, which China claims as its own.
The Biden administration faces a conundrum as it rethinks the positioning of military forces around the world: How to focus more on China and Russia without retreating from longstanding Mideast threats and to make this shift with potentially leaner Pentagon budgets. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered a monthslong global posture review just days after taking office. It will assess how the United States can best arrange and support its far-flung network of troops, weapons, bases and alliances to buttress President Joe Biden’s foreign policy.
The review is part of the administration’s effort to chart a path for a military still caught in decades-old Mideast conflicts, facing flat or declining budgets, and grappling with internal problems like racism and extremism. Its outcome could have a long-lasting impact on the military’s first priority: ensuring it is ready for war in an era of uncertain arms control. Also at stake are relations with allies and partners, weakened in some cases by the Trump administration’s America first approach to diplomacy.
Austin’s review is closely related to a pending administration decision on whether to fulfil the prior administration’s promise to fully withdraw from Afghanistan this spring. And it is advancing separately from big-dollar questions about modernizing the strategic nuclear force.
Like the Trump administration, Biden’s national security team views China, not militant extremists like al-Qaida or the Islamic State group, as the No. 1 long-term security challenge. Unlike his predecessor, Biden sees great value in US commitments to European nations in the NATO alliance.
That could lead to significant shifts in the US military footprint in the Middle East, Europe and the Asia-Pacific, although such changes have been tried before with limited success. The Trump administration, for example, felt compelled to send thousands of extra air and naval forces to the Persian Gulf area in 2019 in an effort to deter what it called threats to regional stability. Biden has seen reminders of this problem in recent days with violence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It might also mean a Biden embrace of recent efforts by military commanders to seek innovative ways to deploy forces, untethered from permanent bases that carry political, financial and security costs. A recent example was a US aircraft carrier visit to a Vietnamese port. Commanders see value in deploying forces in smaller groups on less predictable cycles to keep China off balance.
with additional inputs from news agencies