President Joe Biden in the East Asia Summit held October 27, 2021 said “We envision an Indo-Pacific that is open, connected, prosperous, resilient, and secure—and we are ready to work together with each of you to achieve it.”
But his feet are soaked in Ukraine and Taiwan.
Continues the fact sheet the White House issued four months after in February 11, 2022, “The Biden-Harris Administration has made historic strides to restore American leadership in the Indo-Pacific and adapt its role for the 21st century.
What a freaking prevarication! The adaption was announced by Barack Obama with his “pivot-to-Asia” and such has been made un-historic at all because consumed by narcissism, Donald Trump administration should have accelerated the mode, but failed to so, during his term. American leadership is now seriously challenged by how the Americans responded to the Covid-19 pandemic and how more feebly it will come out of it being the ground zero of the disease.
The paper continues, “In the last year, the United States has modernized its longstanding alliances, strengthened emerging partnerships, and forged innovative links among them to meet urgent challenges, from competition with China to climate change to the pandemic.”
This is clearly for its own constituencies and for its remaining blind allies to the world changes that started even years before the Covid-19 pandemic. This is just classic confidence-building rhetoric.
Actually, the US is much tardy in redefining itself for the 21st century, and as long as it is in denial of the actual realities, it will continue to remain behind China in the Indo-Pacific at the least. From my senior armchair, what I instead watched was a descending power trying to cling a few more weeks to its old glory.
Continues the fact sheet, “It has done so at a time when allies and partners around the world are increasingly enhancing their own engagement in the Indo-Pacific; and when there is broad, bipartisan agreement in the U.S. Congress that the United States must, too.”
The only enhancement I see primarily involves its Five-Eyes convergence less New Zealand that is now warming up to China. Its ASEAN foothold has also diminished prominently with the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte stalling on the Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement and vacillating on the Visiting Forces Agreement.
Where the US, however, prevails is in planting dissonance in the Northeast Asia and the South China Seas but this is carefully met with Chinese and North Korean counter-measures, and bilateral action between the Philippines and China is now leading security-wise to a Code of Conduct with ASEAN to minimize conflict among neighbors, and economically to the Reginal Comprehensive Economic Cooperation, which involves the ASEAN and four of Five-Eyes partners of the US.
The White House paper continues, “This convergence in commitment to the region, across oceans and across political-party lines, reflects an undeniable reality: the Indo-Pacific is the most dynamic region in the world, and its future affects people everywhere.
“That reality is the basis of the Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States. This strategy outlines President Biden’s vision to more firmly anchor the United States in the Indo-Pacific and strengthen the region in the process. Its central focus is sustained and creative collaboration with allies, partners, and institutions, within the region and beyond it.”
Fact of the matter is Biden is primarily engaged in saber-rattling in the area, reminding the Indo-Pacific of its presence, despite reduced relevance, continuing to assure Japan with increased war planes, South Korea that is silently but surely moving at reunification of the peninsula, Taiwan where it has no control of eventualities, the Philippines that has awakened to the toxicity of having a colonial power as ally, Indonesia which is rushing internal reforms to remain relevant to its galloping population and the like.
The only country that seemed to pussy-foot to an outright rejection the US is India, that has even opted out of RCEP.
But so far, the sanctions the US has imposed on North Korea has become less scary, as the Nokors engaged the Americans in a play-chicken game adding yet another missile launch, some of which were hypersonic, each time the latter opens it mouth. If I am not mistaken, the count reached seven launches until both sides quieted down.
This paper is an ultimate doublespeak in the face of an announced Australia-United Kingdom-US military alliance, nicknamed AUKUS, that confused Indo-Pacific countries on where the US really intend to bring the discussion – economic cooperation and diplomacy or intimidation that could lead to war.
Xi Jing Pin, on the other hand, addressed Davos last January with words that could serve as best balm to the realities of a changing region, whose move forward has been aggravated by a pandemic and natural disasters.
Waxing philosophical, the Chinese president started by quoting a Chinese saying goes, “The momentum of the world either flourishes or declines; the state of the world either progresses or regresses.” The world is always developing through the movement of contradictions; without contradiction, nothing would exist.”
Then he sets the tone for the forward movement of nations The history of humanity is a history of achieving growth by meeting various tests and of developing by overcoming various crises. We need to move forward by following the logic of historical progress, and develop by riding the tide of development of our times.
Notwithstanding all vicissitudes, humanity will move on. We need to learn from comparing long history cycles, and see the change in things through the subtle and minute. We need to foster new opportunities amidst crises, open up new horizons on a shifting landscape, and pool great strength to go through difficulties and challenges.
Truth to tell, the Philippines for example is in the middle of an election period where the closure of American visiting and basing agreements is a germane priority.
I end my dissertation at this point because the rest is just more rhetorical confidence-building, and I do not want to waste the time of my readers on them.
Austin of IDSI
Must read article that shows fish catch for Filipino fishermen who returned to Scarborough in 2016 actually increased and their situations improved under President Duterte and improving Philippines-China friendship…
“There is a peaceful co-existence between Filipino and Chinese fishermen at the shoal, and we hoped that the tension in the West Philippine Sea would not further escalate,” Eric Naboa, said in an Inquirer news report. He heads the Cato Infanta Fishermen’s Association that has around 100 members, most of whom are small boat owners.
This and real stories from the ground directly contradict headline-grabbing stories that conjure images of our fishermen being neglected by the government. But while isolated incidents do take place and should be properly addressed, the reality is better than how it is being portrayed in the media.