Edgar Degas Self Portrait 1862
The US is shaping the Asia-Pacific in preparation of a conventional conflict with China, to which end it unveiled the AUKUS alliance in late 2021. This platform is intended to form the core of a NATO-like military structure for containing the People’s Republic, and it’ll replace whatever related role American policymakers initially envisaged the Quad playing. This makes AUKUS extremely dangerous, especially as other regional countries tacitly expand their cooperation with its American leader.
South Korea’s recent decision to let US nuclear-armed submarines dock at its ports for the first time in decades, which was made during President Yoon’s trip to DC last week, signals its interest in de facto integrating into this anti-Chinese bloc. Nearby Japan can already be regarded as an informal member of that alliance after Prime Minister Kishida reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the US’ regional goals in January and implied that it’ll rapidly remilitarize in the coming future in order to contain China.
Taken together and paired with the recent Japanese-Korean rapprochement, it can therefore be concluded that the US has strengthened its alliance network in Northeast Asia in order to facilitate the region’s unofficial integration into AUKUS+. At the same time, it’s also doing something similar with the Philippines in Southeast Asia, whose president visits the US this week. He’s expected to also de facto integrate his country into AUKUS+ too exactly as his South Korean counterpart just did.
The Philippines’ northernmost core island of Luzon is much closer to Taiwan than the Japanese Home Islands are, thus making it an ideal staging post for any American military intervention in that Chinese province. Although President Marcos just denied that his country intends to facilitate anyone’s regional military plans, it was recently revealed that the four new bases that he agreed to let America use are located on that island, thus casting serious doubts on the sincerity of his claim.
Three other recent developments bode ill for peace in this part of Asia. CNN published a lengthy analysis in mid-April arguing that the US should maximally stockpile weapons in Taiwan in order to help its ally’s forces survive in the event that China blockades the island prior to launching a special operation there. Curiously, such resupply challenges were then confirmed a few days later during an anti-Chinese congressional committee’s wargame of precisely that scenario.
The second development concerned top EU diplomat Borrell’s suggestion that the bloc’s navies patrol the Taiwan Strait. This came just several weeks after NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg declared that “We are now stepping up our cooperation with our partners in the Indo-Pacific: Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia.” The indisputable trend is that the US’ European partners are poised to play a larger military role in the region, including a provocative one if they end up patrolling the Taiwan Strait.
And lastly, it was reported last weekend that US special forces carried out their first-ever drills simulating what they’d do if their country went to war with China over Taiwan, thus removing any so-called “strategic ambiguity” about how Washington would respond to that scenario. It can no longer claim any pretense to neutrality after literally preparing its most highly trained forces for infiltrating into Taiwan to kill whatever Chinese forces might eventually enter that island.
These three developments prove that the US is rounding up allies in both the Asia-Pacific and Europe ahead of a possible war with China, but there are two important players that either won’t participate in this plot or have yet to decide, with these being India and Indonesia respectively. The influential Council on Foreign Relations’ official magazine just published a piece about why India won’t get involved, while Indonesia is being pressured to allow American and Australian forces to transit through its territory.
Even without those two, the US’ emerging anti-Chinese containment coalition is still very formidable and represents its success in getting a multitude of countries to converge around AUKUS. South Korea will serve as an intelligence and missile outpost, Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and the Philippines’ Luzon are complementary staging points for facilitating a US intervention in Taiwan, and NATO will provide back-end support all across the region as well as possibly provoke China by patrolling the Taiwan Strait.
Amidst the solidification of the Asia-Pacific’s NATO-like military structure, the US and its allies will likely fill Taiwan to the brim with weapons exactly as CNN suggested and an anti-Chinese congressional committee curiously confirmed should be a top priority just a couple days later. These interconnected trends represent extremely pressing challenges for China’s objective national security interests, which are being threatened ever more by the day as it holds off on launching a special operation in Taiwan.
There are justifiable reasons for China’s stance, especially since its leadership would truly prefer to peacefully reunify with their country’s wayward region and thus want to completely exhaust all related possibilities before resorting to military means. This moral approach is predicated on their reluctance to be the first to initiate what would be a fratricidal conflict, which is commendable, but it comes at the expense of military interests in the event that a war over that island is inevitable.
No one knows whether it is or not, but the US is doing its utmost to be in the best position possible should that scenario unfold, which thus complicates China’s own position in that event. If the US feels that it’s obtained a decisive edge over China through the crystallization of AUKUS+ and upon maximally stockpiling weapons in Taiwan, then it might even seek to provoke a conflict that wargamers convinced themselves Beijing would lose, which is a frightening scenario that can’t be ruled out.
We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.
Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.
Home › Forums › US Looks For Allies In Possible War With China