U.S. formalizes anti-China defence policy in Asia . . .
The U.S. Department of Defense released its Indo-Pacific Strategy Report over the weekend. While previous iterations of the strategy prioritized free and open trade across the Indo-Pacific region, the update articulates a clear goal of limiting China’s influence in Asia and beyond. The report positions China, with its “repressive world order,” as seeking to bring the region increasingly under its control by “leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce other nations.”
A matter of interpretation . . .
The DOD maintains its revised strategy is to “promote long-term peace and prosperity for all in the Indo-Pacific” through preparedness, partnerships and the promotion of a networked region. But at its heart this is a doctrine of deterrence and strength backed up by alliances with established and new partners that the U.S. says respect sovereignty, fair and reciprocal trade, and the rule of law. This new positioning around a “free and open Indo-Pacific” will present challenges to Canada, which has quite a different interpretation of “free and open” than its closest neighbour and largest trading partner.
A question of support . . .
Will Japan, Australia, Canada, and others, including India, explicitly support the U.S.’s strategy and align themselves with the U.S. in this superpower confrontation? Canada is already stuck between the U.S. and China in the Huawei extradition affair, and late last week Beijing warned Ottawa of the “consequences” to Canada of siding with the U.S. in that saga. Canada may be able to contribute to aspects of the strategy while largely staying out of the U.S.-China standoff, such as by helping enforce sanctions against North Korea. And that’s exactly what Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan said this morning that Canada would do as part of a two-year multinational naval deployment, Operation Neon, following a meeting in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart.
- CBC News: Canada will help enforce UN sanctions against North Korea: Sajjan
- China Global Television Network: China refutes U.S. Indo-Pacific report accusation
- United States Department of Defense: Indo Pacific Strategy Report: Preparedness, partnerships and promoting a networked region