Today, the four premier leaders of The Quad — the U.S., Australia, India and Japan — conduct their first summit, by teleconference.
The Quad, or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, is an informal strategy forum of the major Indo-Pacific democracies that some wish to see evolve into an Asian NATO to contain China, as NATO contained the Soviet Union for 40 years of Cold War.
Next week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan meet their Chinese counterparts midway between Beijing and Washington — in Anchorage, Alaska.
The Chinese are said to have sought out the two-day meeting since before the inauguration of Biden.
And understandably so. For while the Chinese are hoping for a reset of relations after a troubled last year with the Trump administration, leaders of both U.S. parties — to compensate for decades of congressional indulgence of Beijing —suddenly seem to be on their muscle.
Consider. During the transition, the Biden foreign policy team gave a war guarantee to Manila to fight alongside the Philippines in any clash with the Chinese over disputed rocks and reefs in the South China Sea.
Tokyo was informed that its mutual security treaty with the United States that dates to the 1950s covers the uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. But Beijing also claims these islands as her own.
On the eve of his taking office, Blinken said he agreed with Mike Pompeo’s view that China’s brutal repression of the Uighurs in Xinjiang constitutes “genocide” and crimes against humanity. That latter charge is what the Nazis were hanged for at Nuremberg.
How can the United States send athletes to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, if the Chinese are still crushing Hong Kong and committing crimes against humanity in western China that compare to the worst Nazi crimes of World War II?
Testifying before Congress this week, four-star Admiral Phil Davidson, retiring commander of the Indo-Pacific, called for new defensive missiles to protect Guam against Chinese DF-21 and DF-26 missiles. China calls these missiles “Guam killers.”
The admiral also called for the U.S. to develop intermediate-range missiles that can be fired from Guam and allied territory closer to China. Describing the need for offensive missiles to hit Chinese targets, Davidson said, “If I can’t score some runs, I can’t win the game.”
Addressing Taiwan, Davidson said:
“Over the past year, Beijing has pursued a coordinated campaign of diplomatic, information, economic, and — increasingly — military tools to isolate Taipei from the international community and if necessary compel unification with the (Peoples Republic of China.)”
Chinese warplanes have lately flown in formation toward the island of 25 million, which Beijing claims as its national territory — a claim President Nixon seemed to concede in the Shanghai Communique after his Peking summit of 1972.
“Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid,” was how the Biden State Department answered China’s aggressive moves.
If we don’t establish rules of the road for U.S. and Chinese ships and planes in the East and South China Sea and Taiwan strait, how do we indefinitely avoid the kind of collision that could turn into a shooting war?
In this widening and deepening confrontation, China is not backing down. She makes no apologies for the crackdown in Hong Kong or the concentration camps of the Uighurs. She continues to stonewall about how the coronavirus escaped from Wuhan to kill 500,000 Americans and many times that number worldwide.
The government of Ukraine announced Thursday that it would seize Motor Sich, a private corporation that specializes in building jet engines and other military hardware, and return it “to the people” after multiple attempts by a Chinese company to buy it.
Last month, Ukraine sanctioned a Chinese company, Beijing Skyrizon Aviation, for attempting to take over Motor Sich. Ukrainian officials protested that Motor Sich is too important to the Ukrainian military to allow it to be bought by a foreign actor, and thus Skyrizon posed a national security threat. Motor Sich remained nonetheless owned by majority-Chinese shareholders, which the administration of President Volodymyr Zelensky deemed concerning enough to end their ownership of the company by force.
Zelensky’s unilateral actions against China — despite Ukraine’s minimal economic power to confront China and the fact that it remains embroiled in a civil war against Russia-backed separatists in its east — defied much of Kyiv’s attitude towards China before the comedian and outsider took the presidency. Ukraine remains, due to past policy, a member of China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI), a global economic project in which the Communist Party of China offers predatory loans to developing countries.
How might the US military deliver on its long-held ambitions to shift its centre of gravity to the Indo-Pacific region? Euan Graham explores how the Biden administration might go about reversing a deteriorating strategic situation in Asia.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has initiated a global force posture review. China and the Indo-Pacific are expected to be identified as strategic priorities. But there is sure to be scepticism in the region about the Biden administration’s ability and willingness to deliver significant new defence commitments. A chorus-line of Austin’s predecessors described the Indo-Pacific as a priority theatre, yet ultimately fell short on reallocating assets and fiscal resources from Europe and the Middle East. Biden has also clearly signalled his intention to put diplomacy first in American statecraft. To be convincing to regional audiences, China included, defence rebalancing is likely to be required in four areas, not all of which will be within the review’s formal scope.