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US efforts to isolate China show weakness, not strength


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With a flurry of PowerPoint presentations, video calls and hype, three bilateral diplomatic meetings are taking place this week in quick succession in pursuit of the US goal of slowing China’s rise.

At first glance, this may seem like a victory for US President Joe Biden’s pledge to use alliances to unite what he calls “democracies” against “autocrats.”

However, the limited scope, scale and ambition of these meetings show that the world is not ready to take sides in the US attempt to divide the world through a new Cold War.

In the first of these meetings, British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss and Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace met Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defense Minister Peter Dutton to discuss cooperation in matters of security.

Truss made it clear that the target of the meetings was China.

Australia is suffering enormously economically by choosing an aggressive stance against China. Truss tries to soothe the wounds by talking about future technology transfers and investment deals for Australia, not only in terms of nuclear submarine technology, but also in the areas of high tech and technology. ‘space.

A problem with this approach is that China is already ahead of Britain in these areas. The UK is under the nostalgic illusion that Brexit has made it a great power again, when in fact the opposite is true. In the era of globalization, going against the grain of the times and abandoning its partnership with the European Union has diminished the medium-sized country.

The UK simply does not have the economic clout and diplomatic clout to deliver on its grand promises.

In a second such meeting, Japanese and French foreign and defense ministers held virtual talks on Thursday focused on tackling China’s rise. These talks are the first since 2019 and could be seen as behind-the-scenes efforts to bring France back into the circle of “Indo-Pacific” warriors after a devastating diplomatic snub from Australia, the United States and Britain. to France last year. a lucrative submarine contract.

The four ministers danced to the tune of America calling for a “free and open Indo-Pacific”, a favorite Washington phrase.

Finally, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and US President Joe Biden will hold their first virtual meeting since Kishida took office on Friday. They should stress the importance of the one-China principle as part of their dual approach of discouraging Taiwan independence with words while supporting it with deeds.

As an example of this American hypocrisy, politician William Lai of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan will meet with US officials in California while transiting the country on a diplomatic visa.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss walks through St. James’s Park, London, UK, January 14, 2022. /AP

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss walks through St. James’s Park, London, UK, January 14, 2022. /AP

If these three meetings may seem impressive at first sight, it is clear that they involve only five nations. This is not an impressive display of global solidarity.

The European Union, South Korea, Southeast Asian countries, New Zealand and scores of other countries have been loath to take sides in US efforts to isolate China.

Any traditional or historical allies will agree to sit down with the United States for a meeting. Many might agree to initiatives or long-term plans, even though they know it’s a lot of empty talk.

For example, few people think that the United States will follow through on its Build Back Better World plan to emulate China’s Belt and Road initiative. American policies waver and change drastically every five years. But all countries will applaud and smile diplomatically when the United States makes such an announcement.

However, talking is not expensive. No country will act against its own self-interest just to help the United States retain its hegemony. China is the biggest trading partner of all, a fact that the United States sees as a threat, but which the countries themselves see as a path to prosperity.

The United States once wrote the rules for international trade, but the rise of China has changed that and threatens its global hegemony. Biden imagines that the United States has allies around the world willing to sacrifice its own economic interests just to help it stay at the top of the global economic order for a few more years.

But so far, few nations have shown real enthusiasm for Biden’s ambitious plans to isolate China. The world has changed, and while Biden cannot see it, many countries rightly view the United States as a far greater threat to global stability and their own national interests than China.

Biden wanted his diplomatic efforts to isolate China to show his strength, but instead they reflected his weakness.

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