WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Biden just wrapped up his first trip to Asia, meeting with leaders in Korea and Japan, reassuring our partnerships with allies in that region.
Experts said it’s a strong move, especially with the war in Ukraine going on. Even though there is a lot of distance between the two regions, experts said what is happening in Ukraine has impacted the Indo-Pacific region through economic stress, food and energy security and more. They are also warning that the U.S. needs to be prepared for a response from Beijing.
As the war in Ukraine continues, congressional members and international relations researchers are turning their attention to another region: the Indo-Pacific.
“The rise in commodity prices in particular has led to fiscal food and energy, security concerns and these in turn could have political implications and could create a strategic vacuum,” said Tanvi Madan, Ph.D. from the Brookings Institution. “A separate and longer-term economic impact of the crisis could be renewed goals perhaps especially in India, for self-reliance and building resilience not just against Chinese pressure but also against Western sanctions.”
Experts caution about China’s growing influence in the region.
“Beijing is watching and measuring the global response to Russian aggression,” said Charles Edel, Ph.D. with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Over the last several years and especially during this crisis, Russia and China have been learning from each other both in terms of what they think works and what they think they can get away with. Their goal has been and continues to be to show that the United States and its partners that their response are insufficient, unpalatable and unsustainable.”
They worry Beijing could invade Taiwan, which would raise tensions between the U.S. and China. It’s something Biden said the U.S. would respond militarily if China showed aggression towards Taiwan.
The White House said there’s been no change in official U.S. policy, reiterating the United States’ commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself.
While experts said a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is the most obvious potential event to happen in the region, the U.S. should take a page from our own book on how we handled the Ukraine crisis and be prepared to respond immediately to any major event in the Indo-Pacific.
If China does become aggressive in the region, experts laid out some examples the U.S. can do right now to prepare for that, like: creating a list of punitive sanctions on Beijing, stockpiling critical minerals and supplies we rely on China for in case we need to cut them off and publicly discuss Beijing’s mobilization of their military forces against other states to keep the public aware of their actions.