November 15, 2021

Assessing the Biden Administration’s Policy Toward the Indo-Pacific

Well into the first year of Joe Biden’s presidency, assessments of his administration’s foreign policy have already begun to appear. Several commentators have attempted to identify a “Biden Doctrine” to little avail. However, none have yet examined Biden’s policy toward the world’s most critical region: the Indo-Pacific. The administration’s opening months have produced tangible wins and presented a generally coherent theory of success in regional affairs. But the next phases are likely to prove more difficult to tackle — and the potential for heightened aggression from China looms large.

The Biden Administration’s approach toward the Indo-Pacific region can be distilled into three key pillars. The first and most defined pillar is revitalising relationships with allies and close partners. Early outcomes in this area include holding summits with leaders from Japan and South Korea along with a brisk succession of trilateral engagements; elevating the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad); negotiating the Australia-United Kingdom-United States enhanced trilateral partnership (AUKUS), and refreshing defence ties with the Philippines. The Biden team has further sought to foster links between allies in Asia and Europe and build consensus about the challenge China poses. However, these efforts have encountered headwinds with Europe’s angst over the Afghanistan withdrawal and France’s fury over AUKUS.

Biden’s prioritization of allies and close partners could leave the rest of the region’s states unsure about their role and those of the region’s legacy multilateral institutions, such as ASEAN and the East Asia Summit.

The allies and partners pillar often gets short-changed as simply mending fences following the discord during the Trump Administration. That description underestimates the full ambition, though. The Biden Administration aspires to reforge relationships for the strategic conditions of a new period in regional and global geopolitics. Alliances and partnerships must now account for, among other strategic trends, a post-Afghanistan United States, a world-transforming due to the rapid emergence of new technologies, and an increasingly rapacious China under Xi Jinping. Security pacts must also reflect an era where allied states are stronger than in earlier years and are therefore seeking concomitant autonomy, but where the need for truly cooperative security arrangements to uphold the rules-based international order is at its highest point since the end of the Cold War.

Read the full article at 9DashLine.

  • Podcast
    • February 27, 2024
    The State of the US-India Relationship

    Michael Green is joined by Lisa Curtis, Senior Fellow and Director of the Indo-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. The conversation begins with...

    By Lisa Curtis & Michael J. Green

  • Congressional Testimony
    • February 1, 2024
    Military Artificial Intelligence, the People’s Liberation Army, and U.S.-China Strategic Competition

    China sees AI playing a central role in advancing its military power. Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping has set ambitious goals for the PLA to “basica...

    By Jacob Stokes

  • Commentary
    • The Washington Post
    • January 22, 2024
    Rumors of China’s Decline Are Premature and Dangerous

    The chief near-term risk is not that Beijing’s ascent will fizzle, but rather that Washington will fail to muster the strength necessary for an adequate response....

    By Richard Fontaine

  • Commentary
    • Sharper
    • January 11, 2024
    Sharper: Democracy

    While 2024 marks the beginning of a presidential election year in the United States, it also marks a year of elections across the globe. These elections are taking place amid ...

    By Anna Pederson & Charles Horn

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia