BANGKOK: With support for Taiwan increasingly strong, a new deal to supply nuclear submarines to Australia, and the launch of a European strategy for greater engagement in the Indo-Pacific, the US and its allies are more in their approach. becoming outspoken. A rising China.
China has held back on moves, and rising tensions between Beijing and Washington prompted UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres over the weekend to call on US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping to mend their “totally dysfunctional” ties. Inspired for, warned that they run the risk of splitting. World.
As the UN General Assembly opened on Tuesday, both leaders chose calm language, with Biden insisting that “we are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into hard-line factions,” and Xi told the forum that “China has never, and never will, invade or threaten others or seek hegemony.”
But the underlying issues haven’t changed, with China building out military posts as it presses its maritime claims on important sea routes, and the US and its allies growing louder in support of Taiwan, which China calls part of its territory. claims, and deepening military cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
On Friday, Biden hosts the leaders of Japan, India and Australia for an individual quadrennial security dialogue to address broader talks including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, but also how the Indo-Pacific, a vast region stretching from India To be kept For Australia, according to the White House, “free and open”.
It comes a week after the dramatic announcement that Australia would abandon a contract for conventional French submarines in favor of an Anglo-American proposal for nuclear-powered ships, a blast that saw Europeans seeking to boost political and defense ties. Oversees the unveiling of the union’s strategy. in the Indo-Pacific.
“One thing is certain that everyone is moving towards the Indo-Pacific,” said Garima Mohan, Asia Program Fellow at the German Marshall Fund think tank.
As partners pursue moves tailored to their strengths and needs, however, the past week has underscored the lack of coordination as a network security strategy is developed, she said.
“Not everyone has the same assessment of China’s threat,” she said in a telephone interview from Berlin. EU policy emphasizes the need for dialogue with Beijing, “to encourage China to play its role in a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region”, while also proposing an “increased naval presence” and Expanded security cooperation with regional partners.
It also notes China’s growing military build-up, and that “shows of force and escalating tensions in regional hotspots such as the South and East China Seas and the Taiwan Strait could have a direct impact on European security and prosperity.”
Germany, which has close economic ties with China, received a wake-up call last week after China declined its request for a port call for the frigate Bavaria, which is currently maneuvering in the Indo-Pacific .
“China is telling them that this inclusive approach won’t work, so it’s kind of a harsh wake-up call for Berlin,” Mohan said.
“You have to take a position, you can’t have your cake and eat it too, and if you have an Indo-Pacific strategy. You can’t make it neutral.”
Other EU countries, notably France, have also sent naval assets for exercises in the Indo-Pacific, and the UK has an entire carrier strike group conducting exercises for several months, as London has recently been taken over by the British government. Follows new inclination towards recommended area. Defense and foreign policy review.
China’s foreign ministry, after rejecting Bavaria’s port call, said it was “ready to conduct friendly exchanges with Germany on the basis of mutual respect and mutual trust,” but clarified that it is ready to conduct friendly exchanges in the region. The Navy was unhappy with the appearance.
Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said, “Individual powers have repeatedly allowed military aircraft and warships to flex muscle in the South China Sea for some time in the name of exercising their freedom of navigation, causing trouble and deliberately provoking conflict over maritime issues.” sent on.”
“China’s determination to defend national and territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests is unwavering, and will continue to properly handle differences with relevant countries through consultation and dialogue.”
Beijing was less reserved in its response to the submarine deal with Australia, under which the US and UK would help Canberra build nuclear-powered submarines, calling it “highly irresponsible” and saying it would be “regionalised”. will seriously damage peace and stability.”
Signing agreements with the US and Britain, Australia canceled a $66 billion deal with France for diesel-powered submarines, angering Paris, which recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra and suggested Given that this calls into question the entire cooperative effort to blunt China’s growing influence. .
Clearly irritated by the surprise deal, many observers have suggested that France’s vocal response may be directed more towards domestic audiences, where President Emmanuel Macron faces a re-election bid early next year.
But there was clear disappointment that the US was not notifying France in advance of its engagement in the region, said Laurence Nardon, an expert at the French Institute for International Relations.
“There was a way to do this while keeping the Europeans in the loop,” she said.
“The Indo-Pacific is also important to the EU; it is not one or the other.”
In a call with Macron late Wednesday, Biden “reaffirmed the strategic importance of French and European engagement in the Indo-Pacific region,” according to a joint statement.
Euan Graham, an expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore, said more than the decision to pursue nuclear submarines, the deal was a clear sign of Australia’s long-term stay in the US camp on China’s policy.
In an analysis of the deal, he said, “the decision to submerge represents a vigorous doubling down on the Australia-US alliance by both countries.”
The submarine deal is likely to intensify the ongoing trade war between China and Australia, and Australia is hoping to strike a free trade deal with quad partner India to help offset the economic impact.