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US’s China Containment Policy: Marshal plan reimposed…

Qamar Bashir

By: Qamar Bashir

While it comes to China US rivalry, two opposite themes emerge. China says that this world is big enough for all of us to share its bounties and immense resources without undercutting each other. While the US leadership says that it may be true, the US will determine the rules of sharing, distribution and use of world resources, and anyone found deviating from this path will be punished. Resultantly, the US and its junior partner Europe and countries of Asia Pacific and Indo Pacific regions are following multifaceted policies to push back China.

At the forefront of these policies is the de-risking strategy aimed at reducing excessive reliance on China, particularly in supply chains and markets. This involves diversifying supply chains by sourcing from multiple countries, localizing or reshoring manufacturing operations to reduce dependency on Chinese factories, developing alternative markets, investing in technology and innovation to reduce reliance on Chinese technology, and fostering collaboration and partnerships with other countries or industry players.

On the military front, the US is bullying its partners and allies in the Asia Pacific and Indo pacific region to push back against Beijing by forging bilateral and multilateral initiatives and partnerships reflecting the United States’ efforts to address challenges posed by China’s assertiveness as part of US policy to encircle China in the Asia Pacific region and beyond as an overarching China containment policy.

In addition to the existing groups like QUAD and AUSKUS, USA has developed a new alliance with Japan and the Philippines in an attempt to isolate China from its immediate neighbors. The trilateral summit being held in Washington in the second week of April, 2024 has announced joint maritime patrols with the Philippines in the South China Sea, where sovereignty is disputed, and to restructure the US military command in Japan — the biggest upgrade to defense cooperation since the 1960s — to make them more responsive against threats from China.

Quadrilateral Security Dialogue(QUAD) which assumed belligerent posture against China in 2016 was formed by the US with Japan, Australia and India focused on maritime security, infrastructure development, supply chain resilience and to share concerns over China’s increasing assertiveness and influence in the Indo-Pacific region driven by the need to counterbalance China’s rise.

Formed in 2021, AUKUS is the second most important alliance of the US with Australia and the United Kingdom aimed to deepen trilateral cooperation on defense and security, with a focus on enhancing Australia’s maritime capabilities, including acquiring nuclear-powered submarines. Currently AUKUS is being expanded by offering membership to Japan. Geopolitically, AUKUS signifies a strategic move to counterbalance China’s influence in the face of evolving security challenges in the region. This forum aimed at empowering Australia to manufacture nuclear submarines which will be deployed in the strait that separates China and Taiwan specifically aimed to deter any Chinese move against Taiwan.

The next important alliance is “Five Eyes’ ‘ which boasts the membership of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand aimed at intelligence-sharing and cooperation on border security issues, including countering cyber threats and foreign interference. In October last year the Five Eyes countries’ intelligence chiefs came together to accuse China of intellectual property theft and using artificial intelligence for hacking and spying against the nations.

In addition, the US has forged many bilateral alliances which include U.S.-Japan. Under this alliance, the US is planning to help Japan create a new Japanese Self Defense Forces (SDF) by March 2025, overseeing all of the country’s military operations. The US will match Japan’s upgrade with an upgrade of US operational command” to lay the groundwork for a future unified Japanese-US command mainly to push back China.

Like Japan, the U.S has also forged Strategic Partnership with India aimed to deepen defense and security cooperation, promote economic ties, and address regional and global challenges, including those related to China.

During her visit to China (4-8 April, 2024) , the U.S. The Treasury Secretary made some interesting demands. Instead of improving US industrial efficiency and productivity, She asked China to slow down its industrial growth to match the sluggish growth of USA industries. Interestingly, her demands of ensuring balanced economic growth did not make any economic or financial sense. The balance of growth according to the US meant a reduction in production capacity for electric vehicles (EVs), lithium batteries, solar panels and other clean energy technology that threaten competing firms in the U.S. and other countries, and stop flooding US markets with exports that make it difficult for American and other firms to compete.

She also warned China to stop providing military aid or civilian technology which can have dual purposes. The threats hurled by Yellen were in line with President Biden’s earlier warnings to China to stop providing help in rebuilding Russia’s military industry and Blinken’s belligerent posture when he warned in Europe last week that China was providing aid to Russia on a “worrying scale,” including products such as rocket propellant.

Recently, the US started using credit rating agencies such as Fitch and Moody’s to discredit China’s credit ratings to negative citing risks to public finances. The ratings based upon self-serving data were rebutted by China arguing that there was no change in financial and economic outlook of China compared to last year, therefore reducing credit ratings had no justification whatsoever.

This multifaceted encircling of China is meant to suffocate China militarily by building aggressive alliances in Asia Pacific and Indo Pacific region, using existing agreements to empower US to intervene against military threats especially in South China Sea, Strait of Taiwan, Asia Pacific and Indo pacific region. On foreign policy front, the USA wants to control China’s bilateral relations with other countries of the world, especially with those countries which do not enjoy friendly disposition with the USA. While on the economic front it wants to control China’s industrial strategy by forcing it to reduce the speed of industrial growth to match the sluggish US industrial production. On the financial front it is using sovereign credit rating agencies to discredit China’s Financial outlook.

These confrontations are akin to the Cold War era involving intense geopolitical competition between major powers for influence and dominance in strategic regions, and like the cold war era US is building and strengthening alliances and partnerships with like-minded countries to counterbalance the influence and actions of China.

But this time around, the US is not confronted with Ideological warfare, less territorial but more of industrial warfare, knowing very well that unlike the USSR, it’s fighting a war which it is losing very fast. Soon the US will realize the best option for the US in not to impose tariffs on Chinese products, but to improve the efficiency and productivity of its sluggish industrial sectors, otherwise, it will lose its innovative and creative edge on the world market paving the way for Chinese dominance in these fields which were earlier only US specific.

By: Qamar Bashir
Press Secretary to the President (Rtd)
Former Press Minister at Embassy of Pakistan to France
Former MD, SRBC






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