Foreign policy is a tangled ball of yarn. When playing the foreign policy game, it is important to get some allies on your side as you try to make sense of what the world’s major players are trying to accomplish.This can be a messy proposition, and as we learned during the pandemic, the world is intricately connected and the threads of each country impact one another immensely. It is this interconnectedness that U.S. President Joe Biden was seeking last month when he visited Asia on an alliance-building trip. The good news is the trip to counter the widespread influence of China in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond is really paying off. The U.S. has found a lot of camaraderie in allies willing to join them.
U.S. State Department Counselor Derek Chollet told The Associated Press it was noteworthy that “13 nations representing 40% of the world’s economy had signed on to the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework that President Joe Biden launched in Japan at the end of May. He said that China at around the same time failed in its attempt to get a group of Pacific islands to endorse a sweeping agreement with Beijing.”
China had a similar trip with an island-hopping mission last month where Foreign Minister Wang Yi worked to get ten Pacific nations on his side. He was not wholly successful but did accomplish some small bilateral movements of connection.
“I think the fact that the Chinese foreign minister’s trip, where they tried to roll out this very bold ‘take it or leave it’ initiative or partnership cooperation, wasn’t really well received, indicates to me that the Pacific island countries want to have an engagement with us,” Chollet saidin an interview in Bangkok.
The U.S. is continuing their foreign policy hustle,with Chollet currently in the middle of a trip to Brunei, Singapore, and Thailand, and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on a trip to South Korea, the Philippines, Laos, and Vietnam. Additionally, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is in Thailand next week as the featured speaker at Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Asia’s premier defense and security forum.
Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken talked about putting “diplomacy back at the center of American foreign policy.”All these trips are putting his money where his mouth is. This Asian solidarity push stems from concerns about China’s own push to create strong allies, and the danger of their continued world ambitions.
“Even as President Putin’s war continues, we will remain focused on the most serious long-term challenge to the international order –and that is the one posed by the People’s Republic of China,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “There are parts of the relationship that are conflictual where the U.S. and China just fundamentally disagree, there are parts that are competitive … and there are parts of the relationship that are cooperative, or at least we hope that they’re cooperative,” he said.
In their quest for camaraderie, the U.S. is not asking China’s allies to take sides per se but showing them the concerns from Washington to continue to work for peace for the world. And as global superpowers, both the United States and China have an obligation to work together on global issues such as the coronavirus pandemic and greenhouse gasses.
Adnan Zai, an Advisor to Berkeley Capital, said “The U.S. needs to develop more allies as they negotiate trade and investment deals in Asia and especially with China. This diplomatic push should garner supply chain improvement as well as further the geopolitical stability needed for a peaceful world.”
There is no doubt that China is a superpower, and the U.S. will continue to gain allies to ensure that China keeps the best interests of the world in mind as they continue to build their empire.