PDB (China Threat Edition) – Biden’s Long Overdue China Strategy and an Unpredictable, Long and Violent War in the Pacific?

PDB (China Threat Edition) – Biden’s Long Overdue China Strategy and an Unpredictable, Long and Violent War in the Pacific?

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China Threat

US Army Pacific Commander: Next war will be violent, very human, unpredictable and long. Despite a strong focus on air and naval power, the commander of the Army in the Pacific says land forces will play a crucial role in any future regional conflict. And to deter the growing power of China’s armed forces from conflict, the U.S. relies heavily on friends and allies through the region, says General Charles Flynn. In conversation with ASPI executive director Peter Jennings in Canberra this week, Flynn made clear that such a conflict would be costly in the extreme.

DAY LATE AND DOLLAR SHORT? Words Versus Deeds in Biden’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. For those watching for signs of the adopting a more deliberate and strategic approach to Asia, last week delivered fodder for both optimists and pessimists, as the administration released its Indo-Pacific Strategy. This is the White House’s first regional strategy — coming out before even the National Security Strategy — so it deserves a careful reading. While the strategy sends many of the right signals, it is impossible to judge it in isolation from a decade of American promises about prioritizing Asia, which have too often gone unfulfilled.

Assessing China’s Strategy to “Hide Capabilities and Bide Time.” Since 2008, China has emerged on the world stage as a global power. Its growth within the political, economic, and military domains in international affairs has caught the world off guard. China’s success resulted from efforts undertaken to manipulate perceptions in Washington D.C., known as “hiding capabilities and biding time,” to achieve its core national security objectives.

TO PUTIN OR NOT TO PUTIN? China’s Ukraine Crisis. The Ukraine crisis is primarily a standoff between Russia and the West, but off to the side, another player stands awkwardly: China. Beijing has tried to walk a fine line on Ukraine. On one hand, it has taken Russia’s side, blaming NATO expansion for causing the crisis. On the other hand, especially as the risk of military conflict has grown, it has called for diplomacy over war. Beijing would like to maintain strong ties with Moscow, safeguard its trade relationship with Ukraine, keep the EU in its economic orbit, and avoid the spillover from U.S. and EU sanctions on Moscow—all while preventing relations with the United States from significantly deteriorating. Securing one of these objectives may be possible. Achieving all of them is not.

Behind China’s Warning Against a Russian Invasion Is a Desire to Protect Ties With the U.S. China’s more explicit warnings in recent days against a Russian invasion of Ukraine show how Beijing is walking a tightrope, trying to build up a partnership with the Kremlin while preventing its relationship with Washington from becoming outright hostile. A shared interest in confronting the U.S. has driven the China-Russia relationship to its closest point since the early years of the Cold War seven decades ago. But since Chinese President Xi Jinping this month gave his Russian counterpart his strongest support to date in Moscow’s standoff with the West, Beijing has been calling for a resolution of the crisis through diplomatic channels, aligning its position closer to that taken by the U.S. and its allies.

How to Respond to Gray Zone Aggression in the Indo-Pacific. Changes have been afoot in the Indo-Pacific in recent years. Lasers temporarily blind reconnaissance satellites. Man-made islands rise atop reefs as newly minted outposts of alleged Chinese sovereign territory. “Emergency defensive measures” are threatened against aircraft that would fly through international airspace near China without obeying expansive Chinese air controls. This is gray zone warfare, and the U.S. and its allies and partners must rethink countermeasures if they want to compete.

Human rights? China won that Winter Olympics battle. Almost. When three-time Olympian Gus Kenworthy took the remarkable, even brave decision to speak out against “human rights atrocities” while still in China at the Winter Games, the British skier proved that other athletes, had they chosen, could have used their Olympic platform too. Because Kenworthy wasn’t hauled away and imprisoned, as Chinese critics of the ruling Communist Party routinely are. Doing so would have generated exactly the sort of global focus on the Chinese government’s authoritarian methods that it sought to avoid while global sports’ biggest show was in town. And with the notable exception of Kenworthy, China largely accomplished that mission.

END of PDB

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