U.S. Needs to Protect Intl Order by Strengthening Alliances in its China Policy

How can the U.S.-led international order, which is based on democracy and the rule of law, be protected from the challenges posed by China? The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden needs to strengthen ties with its allies and formulate a firm strategy.

In a diplomatic speech, Biden positioned China as “our most serious competitor.” The Pentagon has begun to review the deployment status of U.S. forces and has established a working group on its China strategy. Over the next four months, the group will consider a basic policy that cuts across agencies.

The stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region has been supported by a system of deterring provocations in cooperation with allied nations, along with the forward deployment of U.S. forces to Guam, Japan and other locations.

In contrast, China is seeking to expand its influence by making the South China Sea its military base through forcible maritime advancement. If the situation is left unchecked, there is a risk that freedom of navigation and international rules will be disregarded, and the global order will be rewritten in favor of China.

China’s military intimidation of Taiwan and its intrusion into the territorial waters of the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture are actions that are fraught with the danger of accidental confrontation. Provocations that test the resolve of the United States to intervene by checking the reaction of Japan and others are unacceptable. It is important to take firm action and prevent this from becoming a regular occurrence.

In a telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Biden stressed the need to preserve a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” It is significant that the new administration has also inherited the principles based on universal values that Japan promoted with the administration of Donald Trump, and directly conveyed this to Xi.

The Biden administration differs greatly from the previous administration in its emphasis on alliances. It is wise to place the framework of Japan, the United States, Australia and India at the axis of its Indo-Pacific policy.

It is important for Japan and the United States to coordinate so that U.S. involvement in the region will be further strengthened through the realignment of U.S. forces. It is hoped that the United States will further deepen its recognition that U.S. military bases in Japan are strategically important to the United States as well.

Partly in order to avoid placing an excessive burden on the United States, it will be essential for Japan and other allies to improve their own defense capabilities. How to reconcile security interests and economic relations with China will also be a common issue.

The United States and its allies must communicate with China and protect a stable order while avoiding escalating tensions that could lead to military confrontation.

While China calls for a “spirit of cooperation” and “mutual respect” from the United States, it has shown that it will never give up its “core interests” in Taiwan, Hong Kong and other areas. China may be trying to get the United States to soften its stance by flirting with cooperation in combating infectious diseases and climate change.

Biden should stick to his position of pursuing engagement with China “when it advances the interests of the American people and those of our allies.”

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Feb. 17, 2021.