In foreign policy, the horizon line of the Biden administration was clear: it would focus on Asia and its rivalry with China. However, it took sixteen months for the American president to make his first trip to the region, between May 20 and 24. A week after the holding in Washington of a summit with the countries of Southeast Asia, Joe Biden must go to South Korea, then to Japan, where he will participate in a summit of the Quad, in the company of India and Australia. This long delay is explained by the circumstances of the beginning of his mandate: the chaotic management of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the horrors of the legislative projects of the White House in Congress, then the political and military support given to Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion.
But the Biden administration denies any shift in priority due to the Kremlin-initiated war. “In reality, we do not see this as a tension (…) , but as two mutually reinforcing things” , explained the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, Wednesday May 18, even using the word “symbiosis”. The American president wants to display the intensity of relations with Japan and South Korea, two essential allies in the Indo-Pacific, which have also supported Ukraine. He also intends to respond to concerns about North Korea's ballistic tests and, above all, a possible Chinese military coup against Taiwan.
New strategic concept
From Europe to Asia, according to Washington, the essential issue is the cohesion of the bloc of liberal democracies in the face of authoritarian regimes. In February, the White House released a document on its strategy in the region. “Our objective is not to change the People's Republic of China, it was written there, but to shape the strategic environment in which it evolves, to build a balance of influence in the world which is as favorable as possible to the United States, to its allies and partners, and to the interests and values that we share. »
At the end of June, NATO must adapt, during the Madrid summit, a new strategic concept, an important document recalling its principles and its priorities. According to our information, the United States is again putting pressure on China to enter the sights of the Alliance, which is not its vocation, according to Paris. In the final communiqué issued after the June 2021 summit, NATO members had already noted: “China's stated ambitions and determined behavior represent systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and in areas of importance to the security of the Alliance. But Emmanuel Macron then highlighted the geography and the remoteness of China from the transatlantic space.” It is very important not to disperse us”, underlined the French president.
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