United States, pull back?

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Source: wechat official account: Bu Yidao has been authorized to reprint

Pen / Tiger knife & Dove Dao

In the Pacific region, is the United States “back”?

Since this year’s Pacific Islands Forum will not hold a dialogue with dialogue partners, US Vice President Harris, when invited to participate in the fisheries thematic meeting under the framework of the forum, made a list of how the United States will strengthen cooperation with the region in the future.

Sheng Sheng made the Pacific Islands Forum a competition field for the United States to show its sense of political existence.

At the same time, Washington also attacked from many sides and still did not give up its efforts to contain China.

Missile destroyers illegally broke into Xisha, China, the candidate for Deputy Minister of Finance released tough remarks to China, and vigorously manipulated the chip bill to break through in Congress

But with the mid-term elections approaching, the Biden administration is running out of time.

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Two new embassies will be opened in Tonga and Kiribati, and the first special envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum will be appointed;

Design and publish the first “Pacific island countries strategy” of the United States, as part of the “Indo Pacific strategy”, emphasizing the priority of Pacific island countries in U.S. foreign policy;

In the next 10 years, the United States will provide $60million (a total of $600million) of financial assistance to the region every year, which is about three times the current level;

The volunteer organization “Peace Corps” operated by the U.S. government will return to Pacific island countries, and the U.S. Development Agency (USAID) will also expand cooperation with Pacific island countries;

U.S. Vice President Harris announced at the Pacific Islands Forum that the United States is back and is ready to “open a new chapter” in the Pacific.

But at the same time, Harris also admitted that she and President Biden believed that the Pacific region had not received “enough attention” in the past.

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So now the United States should start “change”.

At the Pacific Islands Forum held in August last year, Biden delivered a video speech, which was also the first time that the U.S. President addressed the forum. He stressed that he would significantly reduce carbon emissions by 2030.

In February this year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Fiji for the first time in nearly 40 years, announcing the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Solomon Islands and promising to provide assistance on issues of concern to Pacific island countries such as climate change.

In April this year, Campbell, the Indian Pacific coordinator of the White House National Security Council, led a high-level delegation to visit three Pacific island countries, including Solomon Islands.

From Biden to Antony Blinken, to Campbell and Harris, the “political participation” of the United States in the Pacific region has been increasing visually in the past two years.

Because “fighting China’s influence” is what politicians in Washington are most concerned about. US media directly reported that the Pacific Islands Forum has become a “new venue for the United States and China”.

Senior White House officials revealed that the United States will invest in infrastructure in the region through the G7; It is hoped that countries will make a detailed comparison between the United States and China in terms of the practices and quality of infrastructure projects.

These are exactly contrary to the wishes of countries in the Pacific region.

The main topic of this Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ meeting is to focus on how to implement the goals of the “blue Pacific 2050 strategy”.

The Pacific island countries are now most concerned about climate change and development.

Climate change has caused global sea-level rise, posing a threat to the survival of these Pacific island countries, and the current efforts of the international community are “completely out of sync” with the impact on the lives of the Pacific island people.

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At the end of June this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. National Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has no right to limit greenhouse gas emissions at the state level, nor to require power plants to give up fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy. This makes EPA lose the “most effective tool” to control gas pollution in power plants.

At the same time, due to the opposition of Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator of coal state, and other two people, Biden’s “reconstruction of a better future bill” has been stranded in Congress, and the climate related part of the bill is precisely to start the transformation of the United States to electric vehicles, clean industries and energy-saving buildings. A senior Democrat said there was little hope that Congress would enact any meaningful climate legislation.

The US media admitted that the Biden administration’s climate ambition was suffering from repeated “bumps”.

The Biden administration has promised to halve U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and achieve zero emissions in the power industry by 2035.

Now, people have reason to doubt whether Washington can fulfill its global climate commitments.

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As for the economic development issues of immediate concern to the people of the Pacific island region, in the view of the United States, they are actually “political” needs.

Gruber, the charg é d’affaires ad interim of the U.S. Embassy in Fiji and the current top diplomat in Fiji, once said that the United States has contributed to some multilateral institutions that provide assistance and funds to Pacific countries, provided equipment and training opportunities for the Fiji army that actively participated in United Nations peacekeeping missions, and helped provide vaccines and other public health support during the COVID-19.

However, people involved in international development in the region said that there was a problem with the U.S. strategy of providing financing through multilateral forums: even if a project received funds, it was not clear whether it was U.S. money.

These people said that when the trump administration withdrew from the Paris climate agreement, it made people feel that the United States was not serious about climate change.

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In addition to Vice President Harris’ promise that “the United States is back” in the Pacific region, Washington has not given up “encircling China” in many other directions.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken just finished his trip to Asia, and Treasury Secretary Yellen began his first trip to the Asia Pacific during his term of office.

After attending the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting, Antony Blinken visited Thailand to strengthen his commitment to Southeast Asia, and the method is still “the same as the old three”:

Belittle China: say that China should participate in the “Top competition” and improve its own level, rather than “countries bear debts”;

Praise the United States: we are doing things according to the “highest standards”;

Draw a big cake: Thailand is an important ally of the United States in the Indian Pacific region. Washington is giving “priority” to cooperation in specific areas such as public health, covid-19 vaccine and education.

I don’t know so many “priorities”, which is the “top priority”.

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On the 12th, Jay Shambaugh, deputy secretary of the Treasury nominated by the Biden administration, released tough remarks on China at the Senate nomination hearing.

Chamborg said that China should no longer be regarded as a developing country eligible for world bank loans, and said that the monetary reserves of IMF special drawing rights (SDRs) flowing into poorer countries would not be used to repay the debt owed to China by the “the Belt and Road” infrastructure projects.

The former Obama administration economic adviser made it clear that China would limit its growing influence through cooperation with international financial institutions and development banks.

As the nominee of the U.S. Treasury’s Deputy Secretary for international affairs, chamborg will become a key figure in the Treasury’s relationship with China after the Senate nomination is passed, and will be responsible for supervising and reviewing the Treasury’s major holdings in the International Monetary Fund and the world bank.

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Experts believe that considering that the United States has more than 15% of the shares in the International Monetary Fund and the world bank, and has a veto power, the deputy minister in charge of international affairs of the Ministry of finance still has a great influence.

Chamborg’s accusation that other countries cannot repay China’s “the Belt and Road” infrastructure construction debt with world bank loans or imfsdr is actually another upgraded debt trap made by the United States to China.

The implicit premise of this statement is that China has created a debt trap for these countries. The existing data cannot support the statement of the United States and others, so they use this statement to create the assumption that China has formed a debt trap and discredit China’s international image.

In addition, the United States has deliberately created risks in the South China Sea and imposed military containment and bullying on China.

On July 13, the US missile destroyer Benford illegally intruded into China’s Xisha territorial sea without the approval of the Chinese government.

On the same day, the southern theater of operations in China took the lead in announcing the illegal acts of the Benford and disclosed the on-site disposal map for the first time.

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Experts believe that from the published pictures, it can be seen that the distance between Chinese and American ships is very close, indicating that China has effectively tracked and monitored the US ships and can grasp the dynamics of the US military in the relevant waters in real time.

It can also be seen from the photos that under the close surveillance of the people’s Liberation Army, the US ship’s artillery and fire control radar were at the starting position, and there was no drill, which may be intended to show that they intended to “pass harmlessly”.

The intrusion of American ships into Xisha once again shows the dual nature of saying one thing and doing another. On the one hand, the US military hopes that China and the United States will strengthen dialogue and control the crisis, but on the other hand, it deliberately violates China’s national sovereignty and territorial security and creates risks.

At the same time, in the United States, from this Monday, U.S. lawmakers began to work and continued to quarrel over a series of legislation all day. Among a series of pending issues, the US innovation and competition act is naturally the most concerned by global investors, because the US $52billion semiconductor manufacturing subsidy is sometimes referred to as the “chip act”.

On the 13th, three senior officials of Biden administration, Secretary of Commerce Gina ramondo, director of national intelligence Evelyn Haynes and Deputy Secretary of defense Katherine Hicks, will give a briefing to senators in the hope of promoting the passage of the chip bill.

The bill will provide us $52billion in subsidies for chip production and authorize another US $200billion to promote scientific and technological innovation in the United States to compete with China.

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Some major chip manufacturers have made it clear that if Congress fails to approve the bill as soon as possible, their plans to invest in factories in the United States may be postponed or even eventually cancelled.

Intel has suspended the construction of a $20billion chip plant in Ohio pending congressional approval. TSMC announced in May 2020 that it would build a $12billion chip factory in Arizona, but recently pointed out that it would take longer to build without subsidies. Globalfoundries, an American chip foundry, also said that the time to build a planned $1billion chip factory in New York depended on when the bill was passed.

According to the official schedule of Congress, the session of the house of representatives will last until the end of July, while the Senate will be postponed for another week, and then August is the traditional vacation / constituency service period. Although there are still several weeks of meetings in September and October, at that time, the two parties will enter the white hot stage of mutual pinch before the mid-term elections, and there is almost no room for negotiation to finalize the bill. The next three weeks will be the last golden window for the Biden administration to promote legislation according to its own wishes.

So the Biden administration is running out of time.

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Zhou Fangyin, Dean of the school of international relations at Guangdong University of foreign studies, said that the “big gift package” announced by Harris at the “Pacific Island Forum” this time showed that the United States was still very concerned about this place.

In the view of the United States, if the Pacific island countries “leave” with China, it will be in trouble, and it is very worried about China’s establishment of so-called “military bases” there, so the United States must take measures to curb China’s development momentum in the South Pacific region.

However, Zhou Fangyin believes that these things promised by Harris may not be implemented. On the one hand, the United States may not be willing to spend so much money. On the other hand, the money promised by the United States generally does not fall on the local people. It is often given to consultants, NGOs, and rules and standards. Moreover, the investment of the United States in different countries will vary greatly, and it may tend to invest in countries that are more important to the United States in terms of security, such as Micronesia, Marshall Islands, etc.

In addition, according to past experience, U.S. aid is often conditional, and aid itself is an important lever for the United States to influence the policy direction of recipient countries. Therefore, the Pacific island countries are not necessarily so active in this kind of assistance with a series of conditions, even more stringent conditions. Nepal’s stop promoting the “State Partnership Program” (SPP) with the United States is the latest example, and Pacific island countries will have a similar mentality.

Zhou Fangyin said that the United States is actually in a special “defensive” situation in the Pacific island countries. Its policy goal is to “prevent the rise of China’s influence”, and it is difficult to measure its interests and the degree of realization of its policy goals. The final result may be that a considerable part of U.S. foreign and policy resources are contained in this region.

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As for the recent intensive activities of the United States in the surrounding areas of China, Zhou Fangyin believes that this shows that the strategic layout of the United States for China is not slackened and is still pushing forward. But on the other hand, we also see that the communication channels between China and the United States are becoming more stable and more detailed.

At least before the mid-term election, the United States will generally maintain such a rhythm in China, which is also related to the difficulties Biden is now facing at home. Antony Blinken and Sullivan may not have the high spirit when they first came to power. American people do not care much about American foreign policy, but more about inflation, oil prices and other issues.

Another expert on the United States believes that the United States is indeed accelerating its pace of accumulating global power in the Asia Pacific region. Just like last month, senior officials of the United States continued to run to Europe, this month can be said to be the Asia Pacific month of the United States.

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However, the expert believes that the current activities of the United States around China and the South Pacific just reflect its anxiety. Guided by the “competitive” mentality, the United States believes that once it hesitates or retreats, the pattern shaping of the Asia Pacific region will be led by China, so it tends to show an aggressive posture in China policy, global diplomacy and security layout, but behind this aggressiveness is its anxiety and even vulnerability.

As Antony Blinken himself admitted, strong diplomacy originates at home. The biggest challenge facing US diplomacy now comes not from China, nor from its allies, but from itself. The US mid-term election is coming soon. Like the 2016 presidential election and the 2020 presidential election, this mid-term election will determine the future path of the United States.

Now there are more and more signs in the United States that the public may push trump to the front stage again. At that time, these diplomatic layouts made by Biden’s team are likely to face adjustment due to changes in the United States itself. This is also the reason why some other countries are now very cautious about the diplomatic commitments of the United States.

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