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Quad Can’t Stop China’s Rise

Nov 12, 2020
  • Su Jingxiang

    Fellow, China Institutes for Contemporary International Relations

The foreign ministers of the United States, Japan, India and Australia met in Tokyo in early October and decided to allow Australia to join the November Malabar exercises. A quadrilateral alliance — now known as the Quad — an Asian version of NATO, took shape. It signals an extremely dangerous new threat to the prosperity and stability in the entire Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. But the Quad will not be able to prevent China’s rise.

The idea of the Quad and an Asian NATO was at the core of the Obama administration’s so-called Pivot to Asia strategy. The Donald Trump administration has gone to great lengths to bring the vision to reality by taking China-containment actions to a new level. It has proved once again the continuity of the policy, which neither Republicans nor the Democrats are likely to change for at least another decade or so.

The China-containment policy is based on a grand strategy developed over several decades and is theoretically indefinite and permanent. The strategy involves political, military, economic, diplomatic, propaganda and other activities, with maneuvers in the military field always given priority.

Under the most recent U.S. military doctrine, the world order militarily has already changed from a U.S.- Soviet bipolar configuration to a unipolar one dominated by the U.S. since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. In such a new, unipolar world order, the U.S. sees itself as the only state with sovereignty and entitled to use military force. All other countries, including America’s allies in Europe and elsewhere, can be seen simply as repositories of natural and human resources.

The U.S. should pursue the higher goal of controlling its own resources, rather than engaging in the simplistic plundering of other countries for economic benefit. The American economy may have no need for some vital resources, such as energy or technology, but the U.S. has set itself up as the arbiter to decide who may use these and who will be deprived. The core mission of the U.S. military is to serve this strategic goal.

The U.S. does not allow Iran, Syria and Venezuela to export oil, or Venezuela to use its gold reserves in Britain, or countries around the world to use Chinese 5G equipment or the Netherlands to export lithographic machines to China, or Russia to build natural gas pipelines to Europe, or Germany to use Russian natural gas. These unilateral diplomatic actions are backed up by the American military doctrine.

The country’s foreign policy and military strategy are closely linked and aligned toward the same goal, which is controlling resources. The U.S. envisions that other countries will join new coalitions it has formed and abide by the rules it has laid down to access the resources and technologies needed to sustain their basic economic operations.

The U.S. refuses to recognize multi-polarization as a historical trend in the world or to accept a reality in which it no longer has an absolutely dominant position. It is still obsessed with American primacy and exceptionalism. It continues to besiege Russia, Iran, the DPRK, Venezuela and other countries and regards China as the primary threat — one that requires comprehensive containment. These policies and practices run counter to global trends and have brought the entire world into a new era of systemic complexity.

The Quad was formed to target China. However, as it sucks Japan, India and Australia directly into the U.S vortex in service of American strategic intentions, new tensions and anxieties have been created for the entire Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.

The U.S. has actually placed the other three countries in a disadvantageous position. Basically, the American strategy is to let its allies confront China and bear the cost of doing so. Under U.S. pressure, Japan, India and Australia have all recently acquired weapons systems from the U.S. that they don’t really need. Through military cooperation, the U.S. has further strengthened its political control over the other three. Ultimately, they will find that they are depriving themselves of the benefits that accompany China’s rise.

China is the world’s only country with full-fledged industrial and manufacturing capacity, as well as a huge population and market, well-established infrastructure, fast and efficient logistics and a strong attraction to international capital. To pursue further development at home and common development around the world, China proposes to build a community with a shared future for mankind — including through the Belt and Road Initiative — and has received a positive response from most countries.

In terms of strategic depth, the geographical space of China, Russia, Central Asia and Iran is on the whole the world’s safest today, with unlimited room for maneuver. China has a defensive military doctrine and sound military assets capable of delivering heavy blows to any invading enemy.

The rise of China is a historical process, which must begin at home, unfold in its external exchanges and be presented on the world stage. The U.S. containment policy will not stop the engagement of China, which has confidence that it will win the protracted struggle.

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