The US administration declassified a critical national security document last week, much to everyone’s surprise, since it was not due to be publicly released in any form until the last day of 2042.
But the rationale for the move is not hard to surmise. With just a few days left in office, the US president, who will go down in history as the first president to be impeached twice, is desperate to highlight his supposed achievements, and lock the incoming administration into his administration’s policies.
Like many of the outgoing Donald Trump administration’s moves in recent days, the declassifying of the US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific is intended to pose a headache for the incoming Joe Biden administration by squeezing its policy space.
The hard-line policy adopted by the Trump administration toward China has won the support of both parties in the US to a large extent. If the Biden administration hopes to adjust it, it will likely face resistance.
Yet the US strategy has done nothing but stoke up tensions in the region over the past three years, as it uses the Taiwan question and the territorial disputes in the South China Sea as excuses to strengthen the US’ military presence in the region and stage a fierce confrontation with China. The strategy aims to force countries in the region to take sides with the US against China as part of the Trump administration’s broader efforts to initiate a new Cold War.
The Trump administration’s brinkmanship aimed at maintaining the strategic primacy of the US by suppressing China’s rise has reached the point that it has prompted speculation it may lead to a head-on clash between the US and China in the region if the incoming Biden administration persists with the strategy.
Although Biden has said he hopes to forge a coalition to counteract China’s influence, it remains to be seen whether he is willing to accept such a poisoned chalice.
Regardless, the regional responses to the US strategy so far indicate the US’ intention to contain China and curb its development is doomed to failure no matter who sits in the White House.
In the past few years, the US policy has not only met with strong opposition as well as countermeasures from China but also backfired badly in a region that is increasingly unwilling to take sides with the US over its attempt to strategically encircle China.
It is hoped the incoming Biden administration will show political wisdom and courage and throw the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy and its entrenched Cold War mentality into the trash can of history. China Daily