Even with war in Europe, much of US policy today focuses on the Indo-Pacific. The US Department of Defense identifies China as its “pacing challenge” and the Indo-Pacific as the “priority theater.” The Biden administration’s National Security Strategy identifies China as “the most consequential geopolitical challenge” for the United States. In Washington, a bipartisan consensus holds that the United States is engaged in long-term competition with China, one that will play out in the Indo-Pacific more than anywhere else.
A raft of new efforts aims to improve America’s competitive position, link Washington more firmly with allies and partners, and deal effectively with Beijing. From AUKUS and IPEF, to semiconductors and technical standards, to base access and enhanced defence ties, the United States is, at long last, pivoting to Asia.
Or is it? What does the flurry of American activity add up to, and to precisely what ends? What is the objective of Washington’s China policy, and where do its allies and partners fit in? What role will trade and economic agreements play—or not play—in the overall effort? And how can the United States focus on competition with China in the Indo-Pacific while remaining a global power active in multiple regions simultaneously?
This lecture will offer answers to these questions. It will assess the Biden administration’s approach to the Indo-Pacific, both broadly and with a focus on US-China relations. It will also consider how Russia’s war on Ukraine, along with US and allied support for Kyiv, have impacted US efforts in Asia. The lecture will conclude with thoughts on how the United States can compete with China over the long run, and heighten its engagement across the Indo-Pacific, while tending to its multitude of interests elsewhere.
Last updated on 23/05/2023