A new economic alliance was launched during US President Joe Biden’s visit to Japan. The new alliance was announced during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, including 13 countries in Asia and the Pacific.
“We are launching an economic framework, which aims to work with our partners in the Indo-Pacific region to ensure competitiveness in the 21st century,” Biden said.
Surprisingly, China will not participate in that partnership, despite its strength in the area. Therefore, China looks suspiciously at this project, which is directed against it, and is aimed at curbing the Chinese dragon from expanding east, west, or south.
The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework is not a free trade agreement. This framework seeks more integration among member states in four main areas: the digital economy, supply chains, clean energy infrastructure, and anti-corruption. The new US initiative comes as an attempt to replace the current Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Washington withdrew from under President Donald Trump.
At the same joint press conference, both Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida deliberately spoke tough rhetoric with Beijing, reiterating their “shared vision of the Indo-Pacific region as free and open.” They said they agreed to monitor Chinese naval activity in the region, where Beijing is showing increasing ambitions.
Biden warned that the United States would defend Taiwan militarily if Beijing invaded the self-ruled island, stressing that China was “playing with fire.” In order not to repeat the scenario of Ukraine in Taiwan, Biden said, “We agreed with the One-China policy, but the idea of Taiwan being taken by force is simply inappropriate.”
Immediately, Beijing received the message and also responded resolutely, expressing its willingness to defend its national interests concerning Taiwan. “No one should underestimate the Chinese people’s firm resolve and firm will to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Wang Wenbin, a foreign ministry spokesman, told reporters.
Biden said that “it is not limited to Ukraine only” because “if sanctions are not maintained at several levels, any signal will be sent to China about the cost of trying to control Taiwan by force.” Thus, it seems clear that Biden seeks to enhance the leading role of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region, by joining the leaders of Australia, India, and Japan during a summit of the Quad alliance.
So far, India, a member of the Quadruple Alliance, refuses to publicly condemn Moscow over its war in Ukraine and refuses to reduce its trade with Russia. A meeting is scheduled to take place between Indian and American officials in New Delhi. Despite Washington’s assertion that this partnership is not directed to anyone and is open to all, the reality of the situation indicates that Beijing is deliberately excluded and has already announced that.
There are rapid and successive movements produced by the repercussions of the Ukrainian crisis, and every day the world is moving more and more towards pluralism, especially after the failure of the West’s plan to punish and strike the Russian economy. There are even indications that this targeted Russian economy has exploited the sanctions to improve its situation. And what Washington is currently seeking is an attempt to control the possibility of Russia coming out victorious from its war in Ukraine, and this is exactly what Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, warned against.
Dr. Hatem Sadek: Professor at Helwan University