The Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy has received a significant boost in recent months toward achieving its goal of keeping the region “free and open” from Chinese coercion. Ironically, China itself has been doing the boosting.
Beijing’s rising assertiveness against Hong Kong, Taiwan, and counter claimants in the East and South China Seas, and now even against India along the Himalayas, has resulted in unprecedented agreement across the Indo-Pacific and beyond that China’s muscular approach is an unwelcome development in the region.
Several concerned nations are already deepening security ties with each other and the U.S. in order to mitigate the threat. If Beijing continues to ramp up its assertiveness, additional countries are likely to follow suit, leaving China further isolated.
Take, for instance, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, comprising Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S. All four nations have repeatedly affirmed the importance of maintaining a rules-based international order and norms of behavior. Their security cooperation is deepening.
On July 1, Australia’s defense ministry released a strategic update and force structure plan aimed at countering China. A few days later, China and India agreed to end a military standoff along their disputed land border, but the damage has been done. Now even India’s most ardent China supporters are hardening their positions. Then, on July 14, Tokyo released its annual defense white paper slamming China’s relentless and unilateral attempts to “change the status quo by coercion in the sea area around the Senkaku Islands.”