Beijing: US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken in their policy address revealed President Joe Biden's strategy to compete with China to preserve American interests and safeguard the rules-based system, as they believed that Beijing pose threat to the international order.

Blinken admitted that China rather than Russia poses "the most severe long-term challenge to the international system," The Hong Kong (HK) Post reported.

According to the publication, China is the only country that has the economic, diplomatic, military, and technical capacity to reframe the world order. Beijing's agenda would lead the world away from the universal ideals that have underpinned so much of the world's growth over the last 75 years.

China is also critical to the world economy and the world's capacity to address issues ranging from climate change to COVID. And looking at all these factors, China and US will have to cope with each other for the foreseeable future.

According to the publication, Biden's approach to dealing with China's problem is inadequate. Without strong economic statecraft, there is no strategy -- or at least no plausible plan.

US Secretary of State touted last week's launch of the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). According to the publication, the framework should include a free-trade agreement, as the region favours economic cooperation over conventional security cooperation and consider China as their major trading partner.

The Biden administration is well aware of this. Kurt Campbell, White House Indo-Pacific Coordinator, explicitly said that the US is competing with not one or two hands tied behind its back, but "maybe one foot tied back there as well." He urged the US to "raise its game" in terms of economic engagement with Indo-Pacific countries, making this approach a distinguishing feature of US strategy in the area.

Despite Campbell's serious appraisal, the economic promises of the China strategy fall short of the task. The IPEF's joint statement was unusual for its lack of specificity, referring vaguely to "collective talks toward negotiations." The administration earlier said that the framework would be nonbinding and would not include trade (other than in the digital realm) or investment liberalization.

According to the publication, the US need to level up their trade game, if Washington wants to provide countries in the area incentives to fight Chinese influence. Although the US has either withdrawn or abstained from the region's two major trade treaties, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) -- China is already a member of the former and has requested to join the latter.

The HK Post believes that the US cannot stand against China without a strong free trade policy.