By Greg Pence
The Asia-Pacific has become a strategic geographic priority for the United States in recent years. The geopolitical and geostrategic competition of the United States with China, in the era known as the New Cold War, has increased the necessity of containing China and its expanding influence for the United States. As a consequence, United States obsession with containing Beijing has endangered the stability of the Asia-Pacific and the interests of Washington’s European allies.
Britain, exited the EU, has also aligned itself with US policy. Liz Truss, newly-elected UK prime minister, has already suggested equipping Taiwan with nuclear weapons; a proposition strengthening the suspicion that London has a more radical policy towards China than the US. Even, Rishi Sunak, who was a candidate in the conservative party leadership election to replace Johnson, maintained a radical view on China and believed that China is the most serious threat to British national security. London’s hostility towards Beijing comes at a time when the US’s European and Asian allies have vital interests in the Asia-Pacific.
Asia-Pacific produces about 60% of global GDP and is the second largest export destination of the European Union. Therefore, maintaining its stability and securing its marine routes are of paramount importance to the EU. Besides, Taiwan, as the most important global supplier of semiconductors, plays a key role in the development of modern technologies; an asset made possible through the investments of Europe. Thus, Europe will not accept any tension in the Asia-Pacific and any unilateral change of the status quo regarding Taiwan that would endanger its interests.
What was said reveals that European approach towards Asia-Pacific is at odds with United States Strategy of “managing competition with China and containing Beijing” through coalitions such as Quad. It is also worth mentioning that the escalation of tension will threaten the existential security of USA regional allies, amongst them Japan, South Korea, and Australia.
In other words, the United States, claiming to responsibly manage its competition with China in the region, cannot compete with China beyond the desired framework of its allies.
What is of paramount importance is that AUKUS- the trilateral agreement between US, Britain and Australia- is a paragon example of more support of Asian partners, compared with the European ones, by the United States.
The agreement, which in the first step led to the cancellation of the previous agreement to deliver French diesel-fueled submarines to Australia, faced a strong reaction from Paris, and France called its signing a clear betrayal towards themselves by the USA.
The agreement has also another destructive consequence for Europe: The commitment to deliver nuclear fuel to Australia is a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as one of the pillars of the international security order; the act is considered a big damage for Europeans who reckon that maintaining international regimes is to their favor.
AUKUS reveals that the USA obsession with China is so great that it does not shy away from betraying its number one allies and creating a gap in the liberal democracy and targeting the foundations of the order that it is the hegemon of. The agreement also sent a message to Europe and other US allies that they could no longer be sure that the US would provide the public good of security.
At the recent NATO summit in Madrid, China for the first time was mentioned as a systemic threat under the pressure of the United States. In addition, the leaders of India, Japan, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand were invited to participate in the summit. The action shows the intention of the United States to use global capacities to contain China, and it is also a warning to Europe that the United States is ready to cooperate with its Asia-Pacific allies to form a coalition against China if its European allies oppose the expansion of NATO towards Asia. Undoubtedly, the continuation of such a policy will face a strong reaction from Beijing and will escalate the level of tension in the region against the interests of Europe.
Another sign signifying a change in the US policy towards the Asia-Pacific is the recent visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. The trip highlights the change in the US policy towards China which can be called “leaving strategic ambiguity and entering strategic transparency regarding an attack on Taiwan”. The trip was considered by China as an unnecessary radical move as well as a disregard for the policy of “one China”” and brought a sharp and predictable reaction from Beijing in the form of holding military maneuvers with live ammunition; showing China’s political determination to maintain its territorial integrity.
All the changes regarding the changes in the policy of the United States towards the Asia-Pacific depict the predominance of the element of irresponsibility in the new strategy; reflected in irresponsibility towards regional stability and also USA allies’ interest.
Therefore, it can be said that the policy of the United States in the region is not one aimed at de-escalation, but a policy seeking to create tension. Thus, it is natural for China to react to such aggressive and radical policies in its own backyard.
Although the leveling up of escalation in Asia-Pacific is considered as a measure to secure US interests in the strategic rivalry with China, it is a destructive policy leading to havocking of global security, especially in maritime security vital for energy and food provision. While harming the economic interests of the countries of the world, this policy will also make it more difficult for Washington to balance China’s containment policies. Its is because of what was said that some of the European countries who saw their interests in danger due to the escalation of tension between the United States and China insisted at the NATO Summit in Madrid that a clause on NATO’s readiness to cooperate with China be included in order to tone down NATO’s strategic concept towards China and a fertile ground is provided for cooperation between European countries and Beijing.