Asian ‘Nato’ encircles China

The US-steered Aukus military alliance is cranking up hostilities by inviting Japan into the anti-China pact, writes FIONA EDWARDS of the No Cold War campaign

4 mins read
A tugboat tows China's third aircraft carrier, the Fujian, away from a dock in east China's Shanghai on May 1, 2024. (Xinhua/Li Yun)

Major new announcements this month indicate that the US is intent on escalating its military interference in the Asia-Pacific and the seas around China.

The first announcement by the defence ministers of the US, Britain and Australia on the April 8 2024, revealed that the Aukus military alliance is seeking to expand with plans to invite Japan into the anti-China pact.

This was followed by another announcement, three days later, at a summit in Washington between the US President Joe Biden, Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida and the President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos Jnr, where a new trilateral agreement between the countries was unveiled, including plans to conduct joint naval exercises in the South China Sea this year.

Days before this announcement, on April 7, the first joint naval and air drills between the US, Australia, Japan and the Philippines took place in the South China Sea.

These new initiatives aim to bolster the US’s already substantial military encirclement of China, threatening to destabilise the region and lay the foundations for a US-led hot war against China.

Washington is whipping up conflict in the South China Sea

Under the disingenuous rhetoric of safeguarding “peace and security” in the Asia-Pacific and the South China Sea the US is cajoling the Philippines and Japan into following its militaristic policy against China.

Since Ferdinand Marcos Jnr became president of the Philippines in June 2022 there has been a significant shift in the country’s foreign policy orientation with a departure from the neutral policy pursued by the previous government led by former president Rodrigo Duterte.

The new anti-China orientation of the current Philippine government has been strongly influenced by the US.

This was evident when President Marcos Jnr announced in 2023 that the US would be granted access to four additional military bases, bringing the total number of Philippine bases used by the US to nine.

Two of the new sites are located just across from Taiwan and southern China.

The trilateral summit between the US, Philippines and Japan on April 11 announced a further advance of the US’s strategy — joint naval exercises in the South China Sea — with the aim of whipping up tensions between the Philippines and China.

The shift in the Philippines’ foreign policy has been strongly criticised by the country’s former president, Duterte, who has warned that his country risks being used as a pawn in a potential US-led hot war on China.

Duterte said: “The Americans are the ones pushing the Philippine government to go out there and find a quarrel and eventually maybe start a war … But I do not think that America will die for us … I would tell the Americans, you have so many ships, so you do not need my island as a launching pad or as a launching deck for you.”

It is important to understand these developments take place in the wider context of US aggression against China. The US already surrounds China with around 400 military bases. The US’s main foreign policy goal now, and for a least the next decade, is to preserve US global hegemony by stopping the peaceful rise of China.

The US claims that its actions are “defensive” and designed to preserve the “status quo” in the region. These claims turn reality on its head.

The South China Sea is 12,000 kilometres away from the US. The countries in the region would be able to discuss and resolve the disputes that exist between them in a peaceful way, without imperialist meddling from Washington.

The US administration has appointed itself the world’s “policeman” and is attempting to stoke division in the Asia-Pacific and create tensions through militaristic interference.

The US’s claim that confronting China in the South China Sea is necessary to defend its own “national security” is nonsensical. China poses no “threat” to the US — Beijing is not conducting naval exercises off the coast of California and has no military bases surrounding the US.

The US push for an ‘Asian Nato’

The US wants its global North allies to join its military build-up against China. The founding of the Aukus military alliance between the US, Britain and Australia in 2021 was a significant advance in that project.

The announcement that Aukus is now seeking new members, chiefly the former colonial power Japan, is an ominous development.

Many analysts are warning that the US’s plans to expand Aukus are an attempt to create an “Asian Nato,”pointing to the risk that Aukus could emulate Nato’s role in Europe which has intentionally provoked a devastating proxy war in Ukraine with the goal of “weakening Russia.”

The Aukus pact promotes nuclear proliferation. The agreement involves the US and Britain transferring tons of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium to Australia, a non-nuclear state. This breaches The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT).

The plan to invite Japan into Aukus threatens to escalate Japanese militarism and encourage Japan to move even further away from its post-War World II pacifist constitution.

In 2022 there was a significant shift in Japan’s foreign policy when it was announced that the country’s military spending will be increased to 2 per cent of GDP by 2027, after decades of being capped at 1 per cent.

This increase in military spending is claimed to be necessary to provide the funds for Japan to buy cruise missiles from the US that are capable of hitting North Korea and parts of China.

An imperialist clique targeting China

It is particularly grotesque that the US is proposing that Japan, a country with a shameful colonial history of invading and subjugating China in the 19th and 20th centuries, joins a military alliance aimed at stopping the peaceful development of China.

Japan has committed many brutal atrocities in China. In World War II Japan murdered millions of Chinese people and carried out mass rapes of women and girls.

Britain, already a member of Aukus, has its own appalling colonial history. Britain infamously launched two opium wars against China, forcing it to import and legalise drugs against its government’s will.

Britain invaded and colonised Hong Kong in 1841 and then ruled it with an iron fist for 156 years.

Unlike Japan, Britain and the US, China’s remarkable rise over the past 70 years has not been achieved through invasions, colonialism, slavery and genocide but through peaceful means.

It is precisely this peaceful development of China that the US is determined to stop.

The stepping up of Washington’s militarised aggression in the Asia-Pacific takes place in the context of the US’s failures to compete with China economically.

The US has not been able to raise its own rate of growth nor slow down China’s through its cold war measures. China’s economy is currently growing at a rate two-and-a-half times faster than that of the US.

To compensate for its relative economic decline the US is doubling down on military aggression, the sphere in which the US remains globally dominant.

The US’s increasing militarisation of the Asia-Pacific is a key component of Washington’s global war drive. It should be vigorously opposed by all those who want to stop the US dragging everyone into another world war.

Source: The Morning Star

SLG Syndication

SLG Syndication is committed to aggregating excerpts from news published by international news agencies and key insights on contemporary issues published by think tanks. Our aim is to facilitate the expansion of its reach while giving due credit to the original source.

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