‘Indo-Pacific Strategy’: good for Asia or America?
(Clockwise from far left) Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending the dialogue summit quadrilateral on security (Quad) in Tokyo on May 24, 2022. PHOTO XINHUA
BEIJING: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a speech May 26 on the Biden administration’s China policy. Unsurprisingly, Blinken spoke about the US vision of its “Indo-Pacific strategy” to build an “open, connected, prosperous, resilient and secure Indo-Pacific region”. However, this strategy will hardly succeed because it is defined by bloc confrontation, a Cold War mentality and selfish geopolitical calculations.
First, the strategy will not make the region free and open because the United States itself is the biggest obstacle to realizing this vision. The strategy’s fact sheet posted on the White House website reads, “A free and open Indo-Pacific requires governments to be able to make their own choices,” which seems hypocritical for a country that is occasionally interferes in the internal affairs of Asian countries. time. Good at embellishing its own intention, the United States does not let other countries in the region “make their own choices”, but imposes its point of view and its will on the countries of the region.
Second, it is hard to believe that the United States will make the Indo-Pacific more connected, given its history of dividing and destabilizing the region. It tries to shape the international and regional order through the “us versus them” binary worldview.
At the start of the Cold War, the United States used the excuse of “fighting communism”. And now he’s come up with a new phrase: threats of “authoritarianism.” Through Aukus, Quad, the “Five Eyes” and other alliances, the United States is essentially dividing the region into confrontation camps and trying to build an “Asian NATO” against China.
To exclude China from regional trading systems and supply chains, the United States created the “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework” (IPEF) to persuade regional economies to “decouple” from the Chinese market and look to alternative supply chains. US Trade Representative Katherine Tai has openly described IPEF as an “arrangement independent of China”. The United States advocates “connection” only to serve its own interests rather than regional unity and prosperity.
Third, the United States has trumpeted that the “Indo-Pacific Strategy” will bring prosperity to the region, as President Joe Biden has said that the IPEF, the economic arm of the “Indo-Pacific Strategy”, will help economies From all countries. grow faster and more equitably. However, the United States is actually using the IPEF to establish a unilaterally dominant economic cooperation agreement, rather than a true free trade agreement with mutual open market access or tariff exemption as desired by the countries of the region. Some doubt the framework will even survive the Biden presidency.
James Crabtree, a columnist at Foreign Policy, pointed out that the IPEF “offers no access to the American market” and therefore “would do little to slow the ever-deeper economic integration of most countries. Asians with China”. Sooner or later, nations will discover that IPEF is a “no-win economic deal,” Crabtree said.
Fourth, a “secure” region as advocated in the “Indo-Pacific Strategy” is the least convincing of the promises made by the United States. Since the end of World War II, the United States has launched many wars, including those on the Korean Peninsula, Southeast Asia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. As Peter TC Chang commented in his South China Morning Post article, “The horrors of the war in Vietnam are still fresh in the collective memory of the region. Would Southeast Asia suffer the same fate as Ukraine if the Quad turned into an Asian NATO? “
The answer is obvious: the Cold War and the confrontational approach will only bring conflict and suffering to Asian countries and their peoples. Aukus and Quad led by the United States will only trigger a new arms race and seriously escalate tensions and clashes in the region.
Suffering from centuries of plunder and colonial oppression, the peoples of Asia yearn for peace, cooperation and development, rather than bloc confrontation and a zero-sum game. Southeast Asian countries have affirmed the principle of ASEAN centrality and tried to be masters of their own destiny.
Contrary to what Asian countries really want and faithful to the old illusion of seeking hegemony in the region, it is difficult to see how the United States. The “Indo-Pacific strategy” would end well.
BY XIN PING / XINHUA
The author is a commentator on international affairs, writing regularly for newspapers run by Beijing Global Times and China Daily, among others.