One of the many big worries about President Biden having been elected is how he would handle the People’s Republic of China (PRC). While under the President Obama Administration, the USA saw the PRC overtake the USA on many economic statistics, and saw the PRC take over a lot of the South China Sea, thus strengthening their military and resource capabilities. With President Trump however, the PRC was suffering greatly from his trade tariffs and thus the PRC and their Communist Party of China (CCP) rulers sought a President Biden election, trying to influence the election in any way they could, as the USA once again returned to the top of most economic rankings and their military vastly improved and the PRC was losing momentum in the South China Sea. Plus, President Trump’s creating of the Space Force improved the capabilities of defending US satellites and infrastructure in space from the PRC.
And, with the corruption allegations coming out against President Biden, such as him and his son potentially making millions of dollars from the CCP (indirectly through business deals) for favors and greater influence and connections within the USA, it led many to think that President Biden would allow the PRC to walk all over the USA. And, then, the whole Afghanistan tabacle where the PRC’s new allies (for now), the Taliban, successfully took over most of Afghanistan, potentially transitioning Pakistan and Afghanistan to PRC suzerainty under their new alliance of states and groups who do not follow international law, made many to think that their worries were fully realized. And to their credit, they were in this example. However, there have been very bright developments as of late in the battle against CCP supremacy around the world led by the President Biden Administration.
This week, the USA, the United Kingdom (UK), and Australia just entered into a submarine deal for nuclear-powered submarines that would not only give Australia nuclear-powered submarines, but will also allow the three countries to share information on this so all three can keep the PRC in check from trying to take more of the South China Sea. Australia will become the seventh country with nuclear-powered submarines with this deal. Australia will move from diesel powered submarines with this deal too. This will allow Australia to spend more time under the sea (up to 5 months under water), while also being more quiet and less detectable.
President Biden is very adamant about this, stating “the future of each of our nations and indeed the world, depends on a free and open Indo-Pacific.” Currently, the South China Sea is split between the PRC, Vietnam, the Republic of China/Taiwan/Chinese Taipei (ROC), the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Thailand. The disputed areas include the Spratly Islands (PRC, ROC, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines), the Paracel Islands (PRC, ROC, and Vietnam), areas within the Gulf of Thailand (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia), areas within both the Strait of Johore and the Strait of Singapore (Singapore and Malaysia), Scarborough Shoal (PRC, ROC, and Philippines), and water areas northeast of the Natuna Islands (PRC, ROC, and Indonesia). Now, it must be noted some of these disputes, like the Spratly Islands, does not mean each of these countries within the dispute dispute all the same islands. Nonetheless, this is a very important body of water for not just these countries, but for the whole world as President Biden stated, as it is the second most used sea lane in the world, and has lots of natural resources like oil for example. One-third of all maritime shipping (around 3 trillion US Dollars) and all marine biodiversity can be found in the South China Sea. And, it is a vitally important for the fishing industry and thus the food industry for the countries that surround it. This has led to fishing bans by the various countries in the region.
Each country has a certain amount of water that is considered their own sovereign territory (12 nautical miles in most cases) and a certain amount of water they have the sovereign right for the exploitation of resources and control over islands and such (exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles in most cases), but this extent of water while usually a certain amount applied universally, can often be decreased when the there are other countries close within the proximity of this area, and thus compromises must be made. Once one gets outside of the territorial waters, it is considered international waters, but really, it is once one gets outside of the exclusive economic zones. This is why the claims in the South China Sea are so vital, because it allows these countries to extend their own territory, increasing their power and wealth. And, this has led to a lot of the countries trying to exploit resources that may not even belong to them, in other words, stealing. The PRC has been doing this a lot. And, furthermore, the PRC has been reclaiming land and building islands in order to add to territorial waters (which surround islands to the same rules), which has destroyed lots of the biodiversity and sea life, as well as claiming other islands. They have built military bases even, and also have started to drill for oil in various places. The ROC and others like Vietnam have also attempted to extract resources from the area and have settled on islands as well. Even India has become a player in this battle of waters as they have partnered with Vietnam to extract oil and other resources for themselves via state owned companies like ONCG. And, it is interesting to note that in this dispute, the ROC and PRC see eye to eye sort of, because they both claim almost all of the total area (and the same area), but they just disagree on which one is the true China as both claim the other and neither recognize each other.
Therefore, this Aukus agreement by Australia, the UK, and the USA seeks to really establish the rule of law, and not just the rule of law, but also to contain the PRC from becoming too powerful, and taking over neighboring territories or whole countries like the ROC. Part of the reason the PRC has not been able to take over more of the world is that they not only have barely enough resources for all of their own people, but they also have to deal with disputes close to them and powerful countries close to them. But, if they get too comfortable or the threats are no longer there, they may start to extend even more influence around the world, and possibly not just influence, but maybe territory too as we saw with Japan in the 1930s and the 1940s. This would also increase their power and ability to coerce countries into various positions, as they already do with their One Chine Policy (where countries cannot have official relations with the ROC and the PRC). And, while most countries around the world are for the containing of the PRC influence and power, this has not come without controversy.
Firstly, the Aukus deal came after the Australians had already signed a 90 billion U.S. Dollar deal with a French company and France to have them remodel their submarines which were supposed to continue being diesel, and thus has upset France as they have pulled ambassadors from the countries and called it a “back-stab”. Secondly, by sharing nuclear-power technology and thus resources used for nuclear energy, there are worries that other countries may start trying to do the same, and then instead of using the nuclear resources for energy, they will either purposefully, or accidentally, find a way to make submarines or other vehicles for nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty allows for countries to share nuclear power capabilities, but does not allow countries without nuclear weapons to attain nuclear weapons or those that have them to help the countries attain them that do not have them. And while other countries could have done this sooner, generally, countries do not want to get nuclear or enter into these agreements for worry that this may spur others to, so they tend to accept the status quo. And, when it came to sharing information and infrastructure on nuclear-power submarines, this is a first and thus breaks the status quo, which usually encourages other countries to break the previous status quo as they know that they can use this example as justification and thus not lessen their comparative reputation and comparative trust.
However, as important as this status quo has been to decrease potential nuclear proliferation, trying to stop the PRC militarily is still most important, because if the US and its allies stop the PRC now from conquering the rest of the South China Sea by just showing up there as security, this would mean that the PRC would have to go through the US and its allies risking retaliation and a just strike back and potentially a war, which is what all countries want to avoid most. If the US and allies do not go in however to try and keep the status quo, they would have to either accept PRC domination over the South China Sea, and most likely the PRC’s position as the number one power in a bipolarity world, or they would have to try and kick the PRC out, which would most likely create a war or at the very least a retaliation, and would be in the US and its allies least interests. It is similar to the game Risk as if the alliance enforces the international law in this area or possibly even controls the area, not only is this better while they are doing this, but if they come into confrontation with the PRC, they will have the advantage as it will be their own and the PRC would be invading.
Another example of a strong stance against the PRC has been Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken’s, now twice repeated claim of the ROC being a country. Generally, representatives try not to upset the PRC out of fear of some sort of retaliation, and therefore do not refer to the ROC as a country, at least not officially. And, while the ROC has de facto embassies in many countries including the USA, they are called by a different name usually, and the USA and ROC have agreed to change the title of their embassy in the USA now too, further angering the PRC. The name change has to do with changing the term Taipei to Taiwan that is used in the official name, which has angered the PRC because they see this as a closer move to the USA officially recognizing the ROC. And, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken did not stop there, but also had tweeted how the USA will always stand behind Hong Kong, but later deleted it maybe thinking it went too far for one week.
These are all good news for the ROC, the USA, and the World, as President Biden and his administration are now putting actions to words that they have already stated on how the USA would protect the ROC from any invasions. These actions decrease the incentive of a PRC attack on the ROC, because it signals a seriousness and preparedness from the USA, something which the USA failed to signal and failed to do to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which saw the USA and its allies fail there.
While President Biden and President Obama have not had the best track record on the defense of allies and the strengthening of the USA overseas, President Biden has at times been very good at strengthening the USA and its allies, such as when he was a Senator and called on the USA to support the UK and their claims to the Falkland Islands opposing both the Organization of American States (an international organization/confederation which the USA is a part of) and Argentina (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C9hxsRO7pI). And as president, President Biden has continued the Abraham Accords that President Trump created, albeit often refusing to call it the Abraham Accords.
Therefore, it is reasonable to suggest that President Biden can be trusted to strengthening the alliance against PRC aggression, even when less concerned Americans warn against the need to do such. Yet, while this has been a good start thus far, the USA now needs to fix its relationship with France for three main reasons. One, historically and presently, France has been a key ally for the USA and both believe in strong republican principles and ideas of metropolitan identity (the idea that one can be French regardless, like the USA holds for being American, albeit applied a bit differently). Two, France is the second major player within EU affairs, and the major player in the EU for military superiority and foreign influence, and thus it is vital to keep the French close, as together, they can bring the EU with them, and without them, they may keep the EU separate creating a multi-polar world, or worse yet but highly unlikely, pushing the EU and France to the PRC’s sphere of influence. And three, the USA, UK, and Australia could really use the French in their battle to contain the PRC militarily, and it would be very detrimental if the French reduces the alliance’s ability to do this by undermining the greater alliance of NATO they all share. Already, it is highly likely the EU will create their own military apparatus that is much bigger, powerful, and centralized than their existing security and proto-military forces, in order to replace NATO and pull the EU out of effective USA suzerainty in military affairs. The EU feels strongly about this following how the USA really messed up in Afghanistan. If the EU continue to be on the USA’s side, this will not necessarily be a problem for US interests, besides the fact that the USA no longer has effective control over these countries’ armed forces, but if the EU goes a different route, it would severely worsen the USA’s ability to deter other countries from breaking international law, taking over allies, and/or fighting the USA.