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The Rise of China and the US Strategy in the Asia-Pacific

In tilting towards Russia, China has maintained a neutral stance, thus making its role doubtful in the eyes of Washington. As China has repeatedly refused to condemn the Russian invasion and maintains a neutral stance over the crisis, the US is wary of China's role and fears that Beijing could provide financial and military support for Moscow.

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The evolving geopolitical dynamics, with China`s rise as a regional power and the gradual decline of the United States’ monopolistic supremacy over the world, have shifted the focus towards the Asia-Pacific, where the two great powers are engaged in continually intensifying strategic competition.

The emergence of China as a great power has challenged the US supremacy in the world, which it has retained for more than three decades. In recent years, the Asia-Pacific region has witnessed an intensified great power competition, with China actively engaged in fostering win-win cooperation and interconnectivity and enhancing its maritime capabilities, while the US and its allies have made efforts to contain China’s growing influence in the region.

Read more: Imran Khan’s difficult balancing act between the US and China

The region has assumed great significance in the US foreign policy calculus 

In 2011, the Obama administration announced the “Rebalancing to Asia” strategy, shifting focus from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific. Under the Obama administration, US regional policy aimed at strengthening relations with regional countries based on the US strategic interests. Subsequently, the Trump administration announced the US National Security Strategy in 2017 in which the region was included as an important component and was given much emphasis to the security aspect of the US Indo-Pacific strategy.

The region that was once exclusively called “Asia-Pacific” by the US, however, in line with the US foreign policy response to China, the term Indo-Pacific emerged in the US national security lexicon during the Trump administration when the White House officially started calling the region as Indo-Pacific. The US Indo-Pacific Strategy during the Trump administration thus set a new guideline for US regional policy in the future. On February 11, 2022, President Biden released his new regional strategy, prioritizing a “network of security alliances and partnerships” in the region as part of the US efforts to contain China. The Biden administration has continued to refer to the region as “Indo-Pacific” as part of the strategic lexicon inherited from the Trump administration.

The region’s growing geopolitical importance, combined with India’s and other allies’ importance in Washington’s strategic calculations, has resulted in a shift in the United States’ regional strategy. The US has signed multiple defense agreements with India over the last two decades aimed at bolstering India’s defense capabilities as part of its counter-China plan. In addition, Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom have joined the US-led global effort to curb China’s growing clout. The Indo-US strategic partnership, the AUKUS agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the emergence of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) all point to new alliances aimed at pushing back China in the region.

Read more: US and China: The power struggle

The Ukraine crisis, which has dominated global attention over the past two months, has also tested the Sino-US relationship. The evolving situation in Ukraine is causing division between members of the international community and also intensifying rivalry between China and the US. In tilting towards Russia, China has maintained a neutral stance, thus making its role doubtful in the eyes of Washington. As China has repeatedly refused to condemn the Russian invasion and maintains a neutral stance over the crisis, the US is wary of China’s role and fears that Beijing could provide financial and military support for Moscow.

In this light, President Biden warned that the Ukraine crisis is a direct threat to the “rules-based international order”, including the Asia-Pacific region, where the US is engaged in strategic competition with China. Moreover, the CIA director recently stated that China seeks to overtake the US in every domain and referred to China’s role as a “silent partner” in the Ukraine conflict. The region has become home to numerous flashpoints as the battle for influence between the US and China continues.

 

 

The author is working as Research Officer in Balochistan Think Tank Network (BTTN), at BUITEMS Quetta. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 

 

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