After talking to leaders of traditional allies such as Britain, France and Germany, US President Biden held a telephone conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Kan Yiwei on the 28th. This is his first call with leaders of Asian countries since taking office. It is worth noting that in just one week, four Japanese officials at different levels have started a dialogue with the new US government and all mentioned the Diaoyu Islands issue. In addition, new US Defense Secretary Austin held a telephone conversation with Indian Defense Minister Singh on the evening of the 27th local time after a series of phone calls with Japanese and South Korean defense ministers. In the context of the confrontation between China and India, the content of the dialogue between the two sides has aroused widespread concern. In an interview with the global times on the 28th, an expert on U.S. issues said that the new U.S. government’s frequent dialogues with high-level Japanese and Indian officials and talks about China show that Washington hopes to reshape the security pattern and its leadership in the Asia Pacific region by establishing strategic competitors.
According to Japan’s Sankei Shimbun on the 28th, Kan Yiwei reached an agreement with Biden on further deepening the Japan US alliance and promoting the concept of “free and open India Pacific” on the same day. Biden made it clear during the call that the Diaoyu Islands “are applicable to Article 5 of the Japan US security treaty.”. As for the call, major mainstream media in Japan stressed that it was the first call between leaders of Japan and the United States since Biden took office. Japan’s Jiji news agency said that during the call, Biden showed a clear attitude of attaching importance to Alliance for peace and stability in Asia.
Some Japanese media noted that since the Biden administration took office on January 20, four senior officials of the US government have expressed their views on the Diaoyu Islands issue. In addition to Biden, U.S. presidential assistant for national security affairs Sullivan, new U.S. Defense Secretary Austin and new U.S. Secretary of state Lincoln all made commitments to the Diaoyu Islands issue during their conversations with Japanese officials of the same level. Regarding Biden’s statement on the Diaoyu Islands issue, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Shengxin commented at a press conference on the 28th that “the Biden government once again shows the desire to continue to strengthen the deterrent force of the Japan US alliance, which is of great significance.”
Some analysts believe that the reason why senior officials of Biden’s government frequently make statements on the Diaoyu Islands issue in the short term is, on the one hand, to show the signal that they intend to repair the relations among allies, and on the other hand, to actively show Japan and other allies that the United States will not “be absent” from Asia Pacific Affairs. Previously, allies in the Asia Pacific region, including Japan, worried that the United States would pay less attention to Asia Pacific Affairs after Biden came to power.
In addition to Japan, the United States is also actively engaged in dialogue with India. According to the times of India, Indian Defense Minister Singh and national security adviser doval held telephone talks with US Defense Minister Austin and President’s national security assistant Sullivan. This is the first high-level interaction between India and the United States since Biden became president of the United States. After the call, Singh said on his personal social media, “we have reiterated our firm commitment to deepening India US defense cooperation,” and the two sides agreed to “strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries.”. The US Department of Defense said Austin stressed in the call that the US Department of defense is committed to promoting the major defense partnership between the US and India, saying that this relationship is based on the common values of both sides and the common interests of ensuring that the Indo Pacific region remains free and open. The press trust of India quoted an official source from India as saying that during the exchange between defense ministers of the two countries, China was mentioned in “the greater context of geopolitical development and the strategic interests of India and the United States in the Indo Pacific region”.
According to Indian media reports, when attending the online activities of the All India China Research Conference on the 28th, Indian Foreign Minister Su Jiesheng said that the border confrontation between India and China has seriously damaged the relations between the two countries, and once again stressed that “India will not accept any unilateral change of the line of control.”. He believed that India China relations are now at a “crossroads” and that the (any) choice made by the two sides will have a far-reaching impact on the region and the world. What is most striking is that Su Jiesheng put forward the “eight propositions” of comprehensively respecting and implementing the existing bilateral agreements and abiding by the status quo of the line of control to stabilize bilateral relations. According to the analysis, this is the first time that Su Jiesheng has made such a systematic statement on bilateral relations since the India China border confrontation.
An anonymous source told the global times on the 28th that India generally regards the border issue as a bilateral affair with its neighboring countries and does not mind the attention of the international community, but does not advocate that foreign countries directly intervene. India’s foreign ministry has clearly expressed this position before. Therefore, although the defense ministers of India and the United States mentioned China during this call, they should be more about the coordination of geopolitical strategies in the “post epidemic era”, rather than directly discussing the Sino Indian border confrontation itself.
Li Haidong, Professor of the Institute of international relations at the Foreign Affairs College, told the global times on the 28th that the US “India Pacific strategy” is based on the theme of weakening China’s influence and launching all-round strategic competition with China. Strengthening the alliance with Japan and the partnership with India will be the core pillar of Biden administration’s India Pacific policy. Whether this pillar can be consolidated and strengthened depends on whether the United States can exaggerate China’s “threat” to make both countries enter the track of US strategic competition with China. (Global Times reporter Hu Bofeng, Cheng Kai, Li Jing, Sun Peng)