The US, under the Biden administration, is allegedly trying to build an all-out anti-China coalition in the Indo-Pacific region. It is actively building webs of alignment with the regional countries to restrict China’s rising influence. Moreover, this highlights the US policy that it does not want any potential challenger in the region.
To safeguard its preeminence as a superpower, it is roping in many regional countries by modernizing their long-standing bilateral alliances and partnerships with states like Japan, Australia, South Korea, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, and the island of Taiwan.
Additionally, the US is reenergizing the Quad and emerging military associations such as AUKUS, strengthening their partnership with ASEAN, and also building up emerging partnerships with Pacific islands. The underlying purpose behind these strategic efforts is to effectively compete with China, recognizing its growing influence and capabilities.
US-led coalitions counter China
Under the Biden administration, the US side perceives China’s rapid economic growth, technological advancements, military modernization drive, and rising geo-political influence as a challenger to its military superiority. As a result, the US side accelerated its efforts towards China’s containment. The explicit acknowledgement of China as a strategic competitor can be inferred from the National Security Strategy (NSS-22), released the previous year.
It prioritized competition with China through strengthening industry, infrastructure, intelligence, and military setup. In line with the context above, the US is implementing various policies such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Chips and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. These policies are designed to maintain a competitive advantage over China in strategic defense and technology sectors. Moreover, the US strategy also emphasized the importance of aligning the goals and approaches with those of like-minded partners. It has been encouraging its allies and partners to de-risk their supply chains away from China.
Read more: QUAD, AUKUS, and China’s possible response
Furthermore, the revival of Quad poses a serious challenge to China. The Quad is basically an informal security alliance of like-minded democracies like the US, India, Japan, and Australia. It intends to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) and uphold the rules-based international order. In addition to that, it is important to note that the US strategically formed the Indo-Pacific concept and coalition by bringing together countries situated at the extreme edges of the region, to encircle China.
The Quad leaders leveraged the perceived threat posed by China as a justification to align their strategies to constrain, contain, and if necessary, confront China. Moreover, the fifth Quad Summit meeting was held at the sideline of the G-7 meeting in Hiroshima. Looking ahead, it was announced that Prime Minister Modi will take the helm in hosting the next Quad summit in India in 2024.
The formation of a new Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) alliance is another significant development, signaling that more states may come together to form a formal US-led military alliance to counter China. The agreement was reached after extensive negotiations between the three countries, with the aim of enhancing their security partnership and coordination in the Indo-Pacific region.
The agreement includes a number of key aspects, including increased intelligence-sharing, joint military exercises, closer cooperation on cyber security, and the establishment of an information-sharing hub to facilitate greater cooperation between the three countries. The agreement is seen as a major step forward in the region’s efforts to address the growing security challenges posed by China’s increasing military presence in the region. It is also seen as a sign of the three countries’ commitment to the region and to their collective security.
Multilateralism in Indo-Pacific
The recent developments in the Indo-Pacific region indicate a noticeable shift. A notable alignment among the US allies is emerging in response to the growing challenges posed by China. The Australian government’s Defense Strategic review highlights its intention to forge a closer relationship with the US, while also bolstering its undersea warfare capabilities, long range strike capabilities, and integrated air and missile defenses.
These efforts align with the broader framework of AUKUS, further reinforcing the perception that the US, under the Biden administration, is taking a leading role in countering China. Additionally, Japan’s release of an ambitious trio of documents (The National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and Defense Build-up program) and its recognition of China as the greatest challenge further emphasizes the stance against China.
Furthermore, the Biden administration has signed agreements with the Philippines (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement ECDA) and South Korea (Washington Declaration) to enhance extended deterrence capabilities, allowing access to new bases and docking nuclear-armed submarines. These developments collectively contribute to the perception of the US leading efforts in an anti-China coalition.
The current state of affairs in the Indo-Pacific region remains unstable, fueled by territorial disputes, military build-up, and geopolitical tensions. China perceives the Biden administration’s efforts against China as the main obstacle to its regional ambitions to reclaim what it perceives as lost territory – (Island of Taiwan).
Amidst this geo-political standoff, certain issues pose a significant risk of escalation into open conflict. One such critical concern is China’s intention to expedite the reunification with island of Taiwan. Moreover, tensions also extend to disputes over sovereignty claims in the South & East China Sea, at Line of Actual Control (LAC), which directly impact the US allies like India, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Due to these conflicting aspirations, tensions have been growing between the two countries. Moreover, the US led anti-China coalition in the region reportedly fueling Chinese fears of encirclement. Moving forward, engaging in multilateral arrangements and confidence-building measures is crucial to address emerging threats and foster stability.
The author works as a Research Assistant at the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), Islamabad. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.