In the midst of the Ukraine crisis, the US will remind China of its Pacific interests.
Despite Washington and the West's present focus on a probable Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration is attempting to remind China that the US remains engaged and active in the Indo-Pacific.
As tensions between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine continue to rise, Secretary of State Antony Blinken will go to Australia this week on a tour intended to reaffirm America's interests in Asia and its determination to counter China's growing aggressiveness in the region. He'll also visit Fiji and meet with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts in Hawaii to discuss current worries about North Korea.
Blinken will attend a conference of foreign ministers from the so-called "Quad" Australia, India, Japan, and the United States a coalition of Indo-Pacific democracies formed to confront China in Melbourne on Friday. While China is expected to be the main topic of conversation, US officials said Ukraine and the ties between Beijing and Moscow will also be discussed. The administration, as White House and State Department spokespeople like to remark, "can walk and chew gum at the same time."
However, particularly after the recent meeting in Beijing between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the opening of the Winter Olympics, Blinken is also expected to address threats posed by a growing partnership between the two authoritarian nations.
The U.S. had hoped that the Xi-Putin meeting would have demonstrated Chinese wariness about Russia’s military buildup along Ukraine’s borders. Instead, as China increasingly asserts its determination to reunite the island of Taiwan with the mainland, Xi was largely silent on the matter.
"China should have used that summit to persuade Russia to engage in dialogue and de-escalation in Ukraine." "The world expects responsible powers to act responsibly," Kritenbrink said. If Russia invades Ukraine and "China turns a blind eye," it "indicates that China is willing to tolerate or implicitly support Russia's efforts to force Ukraine, even if they humiliate Beijing, jeopardize European security, and jeopardize the world peace and economic stability."
Russian military action against a former Soviet republic was previously staged during a Beijing-hosted Olympics when it moved against Georgia during the 2008 Summer Games. "Unfortunately, we've seen this before," Kritenbrink explained.
The United States and its allies have slammed China's policy toward Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, Xinjiang's western portion, and the South China Sea. They accuse Beijing of committing widespread human rights violations, suppressing dissent, and occupying territory that its smaller neighbors also claim.
Officials from the United States say they expect Blinken and the other members of the Quad to express their worries about China's behavior during the Quad conference in Melbourne, particularly recent show-of-force demonstrations directed at Taiwan, which Beijing considers as a renegade province. The Biden administration approved a $100 million arms transfer to Taiwan on Monday to assist the island's US-made missile defense systems.
Blinken's three-day visit to Australia will be the highest-ranking US official to visit the country since the two countries, along with the United Kingdom, struck a wide security accord last year, which notably canceled a large submarine contract between Australia and France.
The so-called "AUKUS" pact enraged the French, who accused the US and Australia of betraying them by leaving it out. In response, the Biden administration dispatched many high-ranking officials to Paris, including Blinken, Vice President Kamala Harris, and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, to try to repair the damage.
Blinken is anticipated to try to minimize the conflict in meetings with Australian officials by emphasizing that France, in particular, and Europe in general, will not be overlooked as the US and others develop an Indo-Pacific strategy.
Blinken will return to Washington via Hawaii, where he will undertake North Korea-focused meetings with the Japanese, after a brief stop in Fiji, where he will be the first secretary of state to visit since 1985.
A succession of recent North Korean missile launches has highlighted the nuclear-armed nation's threat, while the US has repeatedly urged the country to return to the negotiating table.
"The threat presented by North Korea's nuclear and missile programs is a high priority for the United States, and I am convinced our Japanese and South Korean allies can say the same," Kritenbrink said of the Honolulu meetings.
"We have stated repeatedly that we are willing to engage in serious and persistent diplomacy without preconditions in order to achieve that goal and make meaningful progress." "We've reached out to Pyongyang several times, but have yet to receive a substantial response," he said.