July 12, 2023

The Myth of Neutrality

Countries Will Have to Choose Between America and China

As the U.S.-Chinese rivalry intensifies, other countries increasingly confront the dilemma of siding with either Washington or Beijing. This is not a choice that most countries wish to make. Over the past decades, foreign capitals have come to enjoy security and economic benefits from association with both the United States and China. These countries know that joining a coherent political-economic bloc would mean forgoing major benefits from their ties to the other superpower.

The number of unavoidable dilemmas will only rise as the U.S.-Chinese rivalry intensifies.

“The vast majority of Indo-Pacific and European countries do not want to be trapped into an impossible choice,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, observed at a 2022 meeting of the Brussels Indo-Pacific Forum. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., noted in 2023 that his country does not “want a world that is split into two camps [and] … where countries should choose what side they would be on.” Similar sentiments have been expressed by many leaders, including Lawrence Wong, Singapore’s deputy prime minister, and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud. The message to Washington and Beijing is clear: no country wants to be forced into a binary decision between the two powers.

Read the full article from Foreign Affairs.

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