China News Service, May 24 (Reporter Meng Xiangjun) Biden's first trip to Asia after he became the president of the United States finally came 16 months after he took office.
This "limited edition" trip to Asia directly "simplifies" the visiting countries to two - Japan and South Korea.
Although the number of countries visited is small, there is a lot to do.
Americans have always been unprofitable, and Biden's trip to Asia this time is all to serve the "major strategic" layout of the United States, mainly for three purposes:
1. Bring Japan and South Korea together and greet the two countries to "get on the train".
Second, draw a big box called the "Indo-Pacific Economic Framework" and include Asian countries.
3. The United States, Japan, India and Australia have a "small gathering" to discuss security issues.
On May 21, local time, U.S. President Joe Biden delivered a speech at a state banquet hosted by South Korean President Yoon Sek-yue.
Various analyses have pointed out that the essence of the US "Indo-Pacific strategy" is to form cliques and engage in "small circles", which is full of dangerous Cold War mentality. If it tries to rely on the "Indo-Pacific economic framework" to target China, its plans will be frustrated everywhere and it will be difficult to move forward.
[US-Japan talks are critical]
[US-Japan talks are critical]
On May 23, local time, Biden met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Mainstream Japanese media such as Kyodo News, Japan Broadcasting Association (NHK), and "Nihon Keizai Shimbun" rushed to disclose the content of the talks:
The two countries will confirm that in East Asia, "the status quo will not be allowed to change by strength";
The two countries will "monitor the movements of the Chinese navy and Sino-Russian joint exercises";
· Stressing the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance, Biden said the U.S. “will not waver in its determination to defend Japan”;
Enhanced "extended deterrence" of U.S. participation in Japan's defense with nuclear and conventional capabilities;
It is necessary to reform the United Nations, and the United States will "support" Japan to become a permanent member of the Security Council;
·As the next rotating presidency, Japan will hold the 2023 G7 summit in Hiroshima...
There are too many "highlights", so let's start with a few key words:
First, monitor China and Russia.
This time, without ambiguity, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida revealed that the target is very clear, China, Russia; the content is very clear, the navy, joint exercises.
The United States and Japan believe that Russia's current actions in Ukraine are to "change the status quo by strength" in Europe. By transferring this logic and setting China and Russia as the same type of surveillance target, China has become an "imaginary enemy" in the Asia-Pacific region.
It can only be said that some politicians in the United States and Japan still advocate the Cold War mentality aimed at confrontation, ignoring that peaceful development is the main theme of the Asia-Pacific region and even the world.
On April 5, local time, senior U.S. military officials attended a House of Representatives hearing on the defense budget for fiscal year 2023.
Photo by China News Agency reporter Chen Mengtong
Not only that, but some of the revelations seemed to herald more dangerous developments.
The 2022 U.S. defense budget supplementary document states that it plans to "generously fund the Pacific Containment Initiative" with $7.1 billion to optimize U.S. military presence, capabilities and operations in the Indo-Pacific region.
The U.S. "Defense" magazine also quoted Clark, the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, as saying that the Indo-Pacific region is becoming the "focus" of the ministry.
Sanders, director of the Science and Technology Office of the U.S. Special Operations Command, pointed out that the U.S. military’s priority to turn to the Indo-Pacific region means that it will operate in a completely different environment from previous regions, and it needs to solve the problem of navigating under high temperature and humidity conditions such as jungles and large cities in Asia. As well as the coordination of operations between special forces and the air and navy.
The details of allocating money to the U.S. military and considering the operating environment of the U.S. military have been planned out. What will be the next step?
Second, strengthen nuclear deterrence.
The leaders of the United States and Japan sat down and talked about how to use nuclear weapons to "defend" Japan, which is also a novelty.
Biden's visit this time is to reiterate his commitment to Japan that the U.S. "nuclear umbrella" will not fail; second, I am afraid that he intends to ask Japan to make a commitment. If the United States wants to "share nuclear weapons" with Japan, you have to agree to let me transport it in.
In fact, since 1967, the "three non-nuclear principles" emphasizing no possession, manufacture, and import of nuclear weapons have been regarded as Japan's national policy.
In March 2022, some Japanese politicians advocated that the United States and Japan "share" nuclear weapons. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Yasuo Nobuo had to say that Japan would not allow the deployment of American nuclear weapons on its own territory.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
The last time he "mixed up" has passed. This time the US President personally stepped forward, and Kishida was still in a dilemma.
Kishida and others are indeed "well-intentioned" to hold the G7 summit in Hiroshima, a city that was once razed by the US atomic bomb.
Japan's Kyodo news agency reported that the Japanese side considered the conflict between Russia and Ukraine "it is necessary to emphasize the threat of nuclear weapons and the importance of disarmament and peace."
Japan wants to be "non-nuclear", but the United States wants to impose "nuclear". On issues of principle, Japan has to push and pull offense and defense!
In short, if the United States transports nuclear weapons to Japan, Japan will inevitably be tied to a "chariot" and become the "pioneer" of geopolitical confrontation in the Asia-Pacific; this move will also arouse the vigilance of many surrounding nuclear-armed countries and increase the risk of nuclear confrontation.
Third, support Japan's "regularization".
Just about a month ago, on April 26, the UN General Assembly passed a draft resolution on the issue of the Security Council's veto jointly submitted by Liechtenstein on behalf of 83 countries.
The resolution takes effect immediately after it is passed, and stipulates that if any one or more of the permanent members of the Security Council use the veto, the General Assembly will automatically convene a meeting within 10 days, and all member states can review and comment on the exercise of the veto.
This is an unprecedented action by the UN General Assembly, which is considered to be aimed at Russia and also symbolizes the "signal of the beginning of reform" of the United Nations.
Data map: The United Nations Security Council meets at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Photo by China News Agency reporter Liao Pan
According to information, at present, the permanent members of the UN Security Council account for 2.6% of the total number of member states.
Since the 1990s, Japan has wanted to revise the UN Charter to become a permanent member, but it is impossible to get rid of its "special country" status, and the road to "permanence" is difficult.
After attracting and lobbying some countries through "money diplomacy", Japan has been elected as a non-permanent member many times.
Today, it seems that Japan is still dreaming of "common dreams".
It was mentioned in the summit meeting between the United States and Japan that the two heads of state believed that the United Nations "necessary reform", and the United States would "support" Japan to become a permanent member of the Security Council.
As soon as this remark was made, South Korea, which Biden had just visited, was not happy.
A South Korean foreign ministry official said on the 23rd that the South Korean side believes that the reform of the Security Council should be carried out in the direction of enhancing democracy, responsibility and representation.
This is not South Korea's "jealousy", but Japan, as a defeated country in World War II that invaded China, South Korea and other countries, if they can "come to normal", it means challenging the bottom line and overthrowing the international order based on the results of World War II. .
[Biden finally made an "official announcement"]
[Biden finally made an "official announcement"]
After talking with Kishida, Biden announced the launch of the "Indo-Pacific Economic Framework" (IPEF) that afternoon, officially announcing this long-awaited blockbuster news.
Let's take a look at the initial members of IPEF:
The participating countries of the "Quartet Security Dialogue" include the United States, Japan, India and Australia; excluding the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, which are separated by oceans, the "Five Eyes" alliance is listed in 2 countries; plus 7 Southeast Asian countries, 13 countries Formed the starting lineup.
In October 2021, the Biden administration proposed an idea to replace the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that Biden’s predecessor Trump announced on the day of his inauguration, and establish IPEF as the basis for strengthening economic relations between the United States and Indo-Pacific countries.
Data map: In 2017, then US President Trump signed an executive order announcing the US withdrawal from the TPP.
It includes four "pillars": "Foreign Trade and Digital Resources", "Clean Energy, Decarbonization and Infrastructure", "Supply Chain Resilience", and "Taxation and Anti-Corruption".
Yonhap quoted an analysis that IPEF has the nature of an "anti-China alliance" that squeezes China out of the global supply chain, especially in the semiconductor and battery fields where South Korea has technological advantages and competes with China, the United States may strive to build a supply chain that excludes China.
The analysis pointed out that the reason why Biden chose Japan as the "starting station" of the framework is also to use Japan to drive more ASEAN countries to join.
[The plan is "difficult"? 】
[The plan is "difficult"?
However, international opinion believes that the framework on which the Biden administration relies is difficult to succeed in the Asia-Pacific region.
On May 23, local time, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held talks with visiting U.S. President Joe Biden at the State Guest House in Tokyo.
First, lip service is not real.
According to the analysis, the IPEF is not a traditional trade agreement that reduces tariffs or otherwise opens access to the U.S. market.
Developing countries such as Southeast Asia and South Asia are looking forward to exporting to the United States, but in the United States, opposition to lower tariffs is deeply rooted, citing concerns about threats to employment opportunities in the country.
Reuters pointed out that the United States is unlikely to give binding commitments, it is difficult to provide relevant countries with practical benefits.
Reacting to the framework was muted by Asian countries and trade experts due to the lack of substance.
The Qatar Al Jazeera website, under the title "Biden's Economic Plan Struggle in Asia," pointed out that the IPEF's lack of clear trade terms may dim its prospects, especially in Southeast Asia.
Data map: Street view of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.
Second, it is not in line with the fundamental interests of developing countries in the region.
The "Wall Street Journal" analyzed that without market access measures, the IPEF will become another "club" for the United States and its wealthy allies.
The Russian Satellite News Agency pointed out that although the United States regards ASEAN space as an important platform for strategic competition with China, at the ASEAN-US summit held on May 12-13, the White House announced a cooperation plan worth 150 million US dollars. The growth in attention averaged to only $15 million per member state.
Russian experts pointed out that the United States is "obsessed with geopolitical priorities" and has not even discussed with ASEAN how to inject new vitality into the Asian economy and advance the modernization and development issues that are crucial to ASEAN.
Why should "developing countries adopt the standards that rich developed countries impose on them", said Calvin Cheng, senior analyst at the Malaysian Institute of Strategic and International Studies?
Through this framework, the "frustration of trade-dependent developing countries" can be felt.
US media reported that Biden announced a new Indo-Pacific economic framework aimed at confronting China.
Image source: Screenshot of the "USA Today" website report
3. More countries are reluctant to choose sides.
Japanese public opinion has noticed that some ASEAN countries have reservations about IPEF because this framework is accused of containing China economically as a decision of the "China siege network".
According to the report, if the United States only establishes a multilateral framework centered on its own country, it is not expected to participate actively.
Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities lecturer in international relations Huang Tan Seng said Hanoi was reluctant for "the US to interfere in Vietnam's domestic politics".
The Biden administration has "prioritized democratic values" when promoting relations with regional countries, making many Vietnamese skeptical about cooperating with the United States.
The common position of Southeast Asian countries is also an attempt to avoid great power struggle.
India's Deccan Herald and other Indian media disclosed on the 23rd that since India did not want to be seen as "joining in order to counter China", the United States revised the official text launched by the IPEF to "alleviate India's concerns".
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later agreed to participate in the framework launch ceremony.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Fourth, the framework is irreplaceable.
Malaysia's International Trade and Industry Minister Ali told Reuters the country would decide which IPEF pillars it would consider joining.
He noted that the IPEF "is not a replacement for the more comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)."
The US has not returned to its "successor" CPTPP after Trump withdrew from what was considered a "landmark" TPP.
Analysts pointed out that if the CPTPP, which the United States has not joined, is the "gold standard" of trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific region, then the IPEF has almost removed the content of the agreement, leaving only the standard.
Just relying on standards, how far can Asian countries go?