US-China strategic competition in Indo-Pacific region | By Shoukat Ali

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US-China strategic competition in Indo-Pacific region

THE United States of America has been increasingly accusing Beijing of attempting to dominate the world through territorial expansion and diplomatic coercion ever since China became an economic giant and is predicted to take over the US by 2030 to become the world’s largest economy.

China, being a revisionist power, has exhibited significant assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region, notably its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to incorporate much of Eurasia with its economy indicate an intensifying great power competition characterized by US-China rivalry.

To restrict the impact of Beijing, the US former President Donald Trump and his successor President Joe Biden forced different nations to work with the US Administration to contain China.

Concerning China’s encirclement, US President Joe Biden proposed his first Pentagon budget which was more than $710 billion, currently it is estimated around $800 billion.

This made abundantly clear that the primary arrangement for this increase in military spending is to limit China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific, especially in South-East Asia.

It suggests that the constant rise of China as a regional competitor poses a significant economic, military and political menace to the western-led dominant position.

A few trustworthy sources pointed out that the Indo-Pacific Command will need to spend an additional $27 billion between 2021 and 2027 in order to construct a network of sophisticated missiles in the area surrounding Beijing.

Moreover, recently US President Joe Biden unveiled the US National Security Strategy 2022 (NSS) in which the importance of QUAD and AUKUS in the Asia-Pacific which is usually seen as Indo-Pacific, has been severely evaluated.

In the light of this, Alfred Mahan rightly states that whoever controls the Indian Ocean controls Asia, and whoever controls Asia controls the world.

Keeping this in mind, the US government is determined to maintain its dominance over the entire Asia-Pacific region in order to compete with and contain China’s rise to regional power while safeguarding its allies and partners.

While defining the US strategy for competing with China, the US National Security Strategy (NSS) evidently demonstrates its full support for QUAD and AUKUS.

In addition, the United States argues that the AUKUS security partnership with the United Kingdom and Australia enhances defence and technology integration and encourages stability in the Indo-Pacific.

QUAD, on the other hand, is stated to maintain and address regional issues in the region. Essentially, the nascent US countermeasures are not a novel phenomenon.

For instance, the Wolfowitz Doctrine of 1992 emphasized the leading role played by the United States as a superpower following the fall of the (former) Soviet Union and stated that its primary objective was to stop a new rival from emerging.

Regarding the perceived US grand strategy, it is clear that increasing US military capability in the Indo-Pacific area is essential to coping with China’s ascent to great power status.

This development makes it obviously understandable that US President Joe Biden emphasized the reasons for the intensification of China’s indirect war and hostility, namely that the Chinese autocratic form of government poses a great threat to the Western-led democracy and requires the US to maintain a durable defensive position and must strongly assume this strategic competition.

Joe Biden, in his first press conference, pledged that the US administration would not permit China to replace the position of US as a superpower, describing the Wolfowitz Doctrine as a design for maintaining US superiority.

According to a White House report, China appears to have overtaken the United States as the most developed and wealthiest nation in the world.

The West intends that this will not occur, because the US will remain to expand. By deterring the Chinese authorities, the United States has been regularly carrying out large scale military drills in Indo-Pacific including missile test aerials.

As US military commander for Indo-Pacific, John Aquilino, recently described in his interview that Washington military force is ready for all contingencies including Taiwan.

Generally speaking, the United States instead of acknowledging the development of China as a positive form of initiative for the rest of the world, is purely holding its full efforts to preserve the status quo as a superpower at any cost.

Beijing, however, is not happy with the development and expansion of the Western-led security centric approach toward Indo-Pacific especially in the South East Asian region.

China has sharply been observing both alliances QUAD and AUKUS forums. Chinese authorities have termed these alliances as so-called Indo-Pacific NATO that seek to contain the influence of China in the region.

Keeping in mind the immense geo-economic strategic significance of the Indo-Pacific region for China and its primary national interest, President Xi Jinping has proactively developed counter strategies to effectively meet the US-led challenges, including nuclear deterrence: nuclear system for command and control, communication, a robust and efficient naval system, a land-based cruise missile, cyber capabilities and other advanced defence systems.

In conclusion, Western political analysts need to be aware that the Indo-Pacific region is one of the most crucial locations in the world in the current era for protecting everyone’s interests.

In addition, there is no denying the fact that regional stability cannot be achieved without the West’s pragmatic and equal cooperation with China.

I strongly suggest that the United States of America should de-escalate tension in order to sustain global peace in future.

—The writer an independent researcher, his area of expertise are defence, strategic studies and conflict management.