This content was published on Sep 1, 2021 – 11:40
Having completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan after two decades of conflict, the United States is now focusing on Southeast Asia, where rival superpower China is the number one priority.
An example of the Washington-orchestrated strategic shift was that Vice President Kamala Harris was traveling the region during a heavy week as the exit from Afghanistan entered a turbulent endgame, hoping to bolster her allies’ pressure against Beijing.
Harris accused Beijing of committing “acts” that “threaten the existing international order”, in particular its aggressive territorial claims in the South China Sea.
His trips to Singapore and Vietnam were seen as an attempt by President Joe Biden’s administration to reassure Asian allies, who are uneasy about the US withdrawal from Kabul after the abrupt downfall of the Washington-backed Afghan government for nearly 20 years.
Ryan Haas, an expert on international relations at the Brookings Institution, said the disaster of the withdrawal from Afghanistan would not have a lasting impact on Washington’s credibility in Asia.
“The US position in Asia is based on common interests with its partners in balancing the rise of China and maintaining the lasting peace that has allowed the region’s rapid development,” he told AFP.
The events in Afghanistan did not reduce any of these factors.” He added that the US interest in East Asia “will open new possibilities” for the country and its partners in the region.
– China and Russia –
Representative Adam Smith, who chairs the House Committee on the Armed Forces, said the US withdrawal from Afghanistan did not appear to alter the balance between that country and rival superpowers China and Russia.
On Tuesday, he dismissed suggestions that an apparent temporary display of US weakness could prompt China to invade Taiwan, or Russia to attack Ukraine, for example.
“I think those who think their (Chinese and Russian) calculations have changed dramatically because we’ve removed the last 2,500 troops from Afghanistan… I don’t see it that way,” Smith said in an online conference.
“There are many other considerations to consider about China and Russia’s perception of their ability to be aggressive in those parts of the world,” he added.
Derek Grossman, a former Pentagon official who is now a defense expert at the RAND Corporation, suggested that China could seek good relations with the Taliban, the Islamist militants who fought for 20 years against the United States before returning to power on August 15. .
Beijing could decide quickly to recognize the Taliban government, even if Washington and other Western governments waited in hopes of convincing the new owners of Afghanistan to adjust their harsh policies.
“China, as a new power in competition with the United States, probably wants to show its unique way of dealing with international affairs, which tends to be, regularly and in a measured way, at odds with the United States,” Grossman said.
He said, “Recognizing the Taliban regime in Afghanistan will contribute to strengthening the perception that Beijing, not Washington, is setting the agenda and shaping the future regional order.”
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