The Biden administration has spent months in Asia developing an economic and diplomatic strategy to counter China, cement its alliances and assure friendly nations of a long-term U.S. presence in the region.
The President has dispatched senior military officials to forge new partnerships, and Pay attention to small countries In the Pacific, Solomon Islands.He started a plan Armed Australia Has nuclear-powered submarines and launched a regional economic agreement. Visited South Korea and Japan in May and invited both countries for the first time NATO meetingto emphasize that Asia has not been forgotten as the war raged in Ukraine.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan now threatens to derail the White House push, leaving allies wondering how the president’s united front in Asia has been damaged.
The worry is that the trip, which will also include stops in South Korea and Japan this week, is an unnecessary provocation that distracts from allied efforts to counter China’s military might and economic influence.
While U.S. allies have so far been largely silent on the visit, U.S. friends have a sense that they are being left out when China threatens the U.S. and Taiwan, and Taiwan is China Self-governing islands that claim to be owned.
Seong-Hyon Lee, a South Korean researcher at Harvard University’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, said the handling of Ms. Pelosi’s visit was worrying because, intentionally or not, it demonstrated China’s power and undermined the role of allies.
“The fact that China’s potential reaction has sparked heated debate in Washington shows that China’s status is rising,” Mr Li said. “Washington’s hesitation has spread widely in the region. This is a very bad signal diplomacy from Washington to its allies and partners in the region.”
Despite short-term economic problems, Beijing has invested deeply financially and diplomatically in long-term plans to dominate the region.
China keeps telling its Asian neighbors that it is their natural partner in terms of geographic location and cultural commonality. It tries to convince them that the United States is a distant and declining power with a broken political system that is bound to lose its influence in Asia.
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The Chinese navy has steadily increased patrols and military exercises in the South China Sea, sending more advanced ships. Its military planes have harassed U.S. allied warplanes in recent months. In May, Australia complained that a Chinese fighter jet had dangerously intercepted one of its surveillance planes.
Allies want to negotiate with Washington given China’s economic and military strength, which they did not appear to be doing when Ms Pelosi marched into Taiwan.
On Wednesday, Australia’s foreign minister, Penny Wong, made the suggestion while calling on all parties, not just China, to back down.
“All parties should consider how to best contribute to de-escalating the current tension, and we all hope for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Ms Huang said.
In recent months, Biden’s reassurances for Asia have been comforting to countries facing China’s wrath.
A favorite expression of this anger is a trade boycott of what China sees as bad behavior. Just hours after Ms Pelosi arrived in Taiwan, China retaliated with economic measures on the island.
For the past two years, China has banned Australian exports of wine, lobster and coal after the Chinese government called for an international inquiry into the origins of Covid-19, which first emerged in China. The Chinese government is still imposing economic sanctions on South Korea for allowing the United States to deploy a missile defense system called THAAD in 2017.
China threatened more sanctions when South Korea’s new leader, Yoon Seok-yeol, recently said he might consider a second installment of the system.
Economic bans and China’s growing authoritarianism hurt its status In South Korea, 80 percent of the population now has a negative view of the country, an all-time high, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center.
“China ranks first among South Korea’s least popular countries,” said Shin Won-sik, a retired general who is now a member of the National Assembly. “About a decade ago, Koreans viewed China similarly to the U.S.”
In response to the Chinese threat, South Korea and Japan, which have historically cold ties, agreed for the first time to start trilateral military exercises with the United States, he said.
Japan, one of the most ardent supporters of Washington’s China strategy, has stepped up its coordination with the United States on the Taiwan issue. Japan’s Defense Ministry has also moved troops, anti-aircraft guns and surface-to-ship missile defense systems to the country’s southern islands, some of which are close to Taiwan.
Public opinion in Japan has turned decisively against China, and support for Taiwan has grown, offering Washington an opportunity to take advantage of closer Japan-Taiwan ties. But Japan also wants to avoid any unnecessary new friction between the U.S. and China.
The trip “is not of strategic interest to us at all,” said Ryo Sahashi, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo. “We strongly support Taiwanese democracy, and we are very grateful for the U.S. efforts to defend Taiwan, including arms sales to Taiwan.”
“But it’s completely different,” he added. “What we really want to see is a quieter environment that really allows us in Japan and the United States to strengthen our security partnership with Taipei.”
Across the region, the United States has made strategic efforts to bring allies into a more cohesive alliance based on military and diplomacy.
A year ago, Australia struck a landmark defence deal with the US and UK called AUKUS to acquire nuclear propulsion technology for planned submarines.
During a visit to Australia last month, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, confirmed Washington’s policy of strengthening Australia with new weapons. “China’s military activities are significantly more aggressive than in previous years,” Mr Milley said during the visit.
Australia is spending money and diplomatic capital with the US to help counter China’s growing influence in the Pacific islands, a strategically important area in the event of a war with China.
This is a complex location to navigate. Many U.S. allies in the region, including Japan, South Korea and Australia, rely heavily on China for their economies. About one-third of Australia’s exports go to China.
Despite poor diplomatic relations, Australia’s sales of iron ore, a key raw material for Chinese industry, rose last year. Now, wine and coal exporters are trying to bring their products back to the Chinese market.
To repair the relationship, a series of discussions took place at the top. Last month, Australia’s new Defence Minister Richard Mallers met with Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe in Singapore.
Ms Huang met her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Bali, ending a two-year diplomatic freeze. She went out of her way to say that China and Australia are not enemies.
As countries now brace for the fallout of Ms Pelosi’s visit, rising tensions between the two superpowers are finally raising questions about the authority of the US president.
“It doesn’t say much about Biden’s influence that he can’t convince his own party speaker,” said Alan Dupont, a former Australian government defense intelligence analyst, noting that the president has said the military Don’t think this visit is a good idea.
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan 25 years ago. But Mr. Gingrich is a Republican and President Bill Clinton is a Democrat, a political situation that makes the trip all the more persuasive. Mr. Gingrich visited China and met then-leader Jiang Zemin before heading to Taiwan via Japan, an unimaginable schedule.
China’s military was also much weaker at the time, and it was only just beginning to modernize its forces, which now include a more powerful missile array and a vastly expanded navy.
Mr Dupont said it was unfathomable that Mr Biden did not persuade her to cancel, even in Australia, a politically rambunctious democracy where Ms Pelosi is known to be a powerful figure.
“An unnecessary crisis,” he said. “A goal of its own, and America has put itself in that position.”
Ben Dooley Contribution report. Jin Yuying Contribute translations.