GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON
Next week President Biden will travel to South Korea + Japan to convince the region that the War in Ukraine will not deflect the US from its principal foreign policy priority – China. As he travels on the Presidential 747. Biden will reflect that the #1 world geopolitical issue – despite Ukraine – remains the rise of China + the relative decline of the US.
Before leaving, Biden underscored his concerns by hosting the leaders of the Association of South-East Asian Nations for their first summit in Washington. On his travels, he will meet with Japan’s new Premier Kishida + South Korea’s new President Yoon. Biden will also chair a meeting in Tokyo of the Quad – the international security group that includes the US, Japan, Australia + India. Biden will also unveil, belatedly, the US response to China’s Belt + Road Initiative – Indo-Pacific Economic Framework IPEF.
But Biden has problems. First, long term historical disputes remain between Japan and South Korea. Second, only Singapore, Malaysia + the Philippines have committed to IPEF. Third, India has refused to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Fourth, Australia may not attend as it holds its General Election this weekend. Fifth, there is speculation that North Korea will conduct a long-range missile or nuclear test during Biden’s travels.
Aside from these five issues, there are two further problems for Biden. First, he hopes to create an anti-China unity at a time when all of the countries he is visiting have their own separate relationships with China – some strong and some not-so-strong. On the back of US/Europe unity regarding Ukraine, his focus will be on the formation of a ‘NATO for China’. Here he will encounter considerable resistance from Indo-Pacific countries eager to build on growing trade links with the coming #1 largest economy in the world – China.
But his biggest problem will be Trump – Will he return? Will he pursue his America First policy? Can any reliance be placed by Indo-Pacific nations on a second term President Trump or a Trump Mark II?