America’s New Anti-China Policy

NATO identified China as a systemic challenge in its 2022 Strategic Concept issued at its June 28 summit. At last year’ gathering President Joe Biden asserted that China posed such long-term, systemic challenges to international security, and this year, NATO wrote it into the record.

At the U.S.-led Group of Seven summit of major industrial nations on June 26, leaders pledged to invest $600 billion in developing nations within five years. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said directly that this plan is intended to replace China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Additionally, the U.S. invited Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the U.K. to form a group of five, called Partners in the Blue Pacific, an alliance that was announced on June 24. The PBP seeks to promote economic and diplomatic relations with island nations in the Pacific. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi signed a security agreement in March with the Solomon Islands and held a virtual summit with the foreign ministers of 10 countries in the South Pacific at the end of May. Even though the countries did not sign any agreements, relations between the South Pacific islands and China have grown increasingly more intimate, and prompted other countries to be on the alert. The PBP is believed to a response by the U.S. and other countries to China’s expanding influence in the Pacific. Because this region extends between two island chains, it has major strategic significance to the U.S. for guarding against the People’s Liberation Army.

After Biden took office, he created a series of mechanisms and organizations to contain China’s rise. For example, in 2021, the U.S., Japan, India and Australia restarted the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue — the Quad, or “Asia’s NATO” — envisioning a free and open Indo-Pacific and order in the East China and South China seas. That same year, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia formed a trilateral security pact dubbed AUKUS. Then, last March, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity was officially formed, and the U.S. proposed Chip 4, a semiconductor alliance with Taiwan, Japan and South Korea that excludes China. In addition, the U.S. intends to expand Five Eyes, the intelligence-sharing network established during the Cold War to monitor the Soviets. With the addition of Japan, South Korea, India and Germany, a “Nine Eyes” would enhance the monitoring and collection of Chinese intelligence.

Led by the U.S., Western countries are moving more quickly to safeguard against and even contain China with a variety of cooperative initiatives and resolutions. But whether these proposals can achieve their objectives remains to be seen. For example, G-7 countries say that helping low and middle-income countries build infrastructure is meant to challenge the Belt and Road Initiative. However, the problem is that America’s infrastructure needs considerable work and it is not in a position to help others. In fact, the U.S. relies on China to supply materials such as steel and cement to build infrastructure, so how can a plan that excludes China succeed?

While the West may want to return to the South Pacific, the U.S. and Japan have a bad track record in the region. The U.S. has conducted 67 nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands, which according to The Washington Post, is equivalent to subjecting the islands to 1.6 Hiroshima-sized explosions every day for 12 years. Marshal Island has repeatedly demanded compensation for injuries from the nuclear tests, but there has been no agreement on an amount, which has generated great anger.

During World War II, the U.S. and Japan battled fiercely in the Solomon Islands. In addition to serious casualties, they left behind unexploded munitions. To this day, people and animals are frequently injured by these devices. Before discussing the PBP, the Solomon Islands believes that before there is any discussion about the PBP, the U.S., Japan and other countries should first promise to clean up World War II’s dark legacy.

Can cooperation based on confrontation and containment genuinely unite people’s hearts and minds? How far can such cooperation go? The U.S., which regards itself as a global hegemon, really should consider these questions.

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