The new “Indo-Pacific” economic initiative

Dmitry Kosyrev

At first glance, the current (by the way, the first) trip of Joe Biden as president to Asia looks boring. Appropriate statements were made, as in Seoul (from which the trip started): “The union between our two countries is built on mutual sacrifices. <…> Today our cooperation is necessary for the whole world.” In Tokyo, about the same, especially considering that a meeting of the QUAD alliance was scheduled there – the USA, Japan, Australia, India.
In general, a rather routine review of the ranks of US partners and allies on the “eastern front”, finding out who and what sacrifices are ready in the American confrontation with China and Russia. A kind of cautious invitation to join the club of economic suicides – following the Europeans, who should not be happy about the war of sanctions and counter-sanctions with Russia, and they are being persuaded to do something similar with China. In addition, Asian countries are well aware that China is m-ore important to them than to Europeans – without the Asian giant, their econom-ies would look very pale.
Yes, the words here sound common and worn out, but behind them you can see a lot of interesting things. For example, a peppy statement on the eve of Biden’s trip by US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo that there is good news about the fact that we are winning: China is not helping the special operation in Ukraine and is even complying with US sanctions against Russia. Namely: in March, deliveries of telecommunications equipment to Russia fell by 98 percent, by two-thirds – of smartphones, and so on.
On the one hand, it’s boring. The propaganda horror story “China, in fact, joined the American sanctions” w-as first launched back in 2014 and has not become more truthful since then, o-nly earlier it was promoted in Russia by Western agents of influence and deceived by them, and now the US government minister is busy with the same thing.
But, on the other hand, constant attempts to really force China, like India, to abandon partnership with Russia is an essential part of the goals of Biden’s current trip to Asia. There is an obvious trap here: if China gets scared and refuses Russia, including its oil and gas, then China will beco-me noticeably worse in this world, its influence will fall. And the talk that Beiji-ng “complies with the sanctions” at least sows doubts in Asia and the world about the country’s stability in the face of pressure. And if he does not refuse and does not give in, then these allies of the United States, and even (at a superficial glance) and India communicating with them, will put pressure on him.
The warning gesture of Beijing and its partners is very interesting here: just on the eve of Biden’s trip, it was China that organized a virtual meeting of the foreign ministers of the BRICS countries ( Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), where general words were also spoken, but not those that could to please America. Moreover, a separate session was held with the participation of the ministers of Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Thailand. With the general idea that it is time for BRICS to expand its reach and attract interlocutors. That is, this is the same review of the rows of partners of varying degrees of closeness – in the form of a preventive response to Biden with his suicides.
But what we have before us is not some convulsive attempts to challenge either Moscow or Beijing, and at the same time split them based on allies, but something more serious. Namely: the beginning of the implementation of the new global strategy of the United States – the strategy of confronting an unprecedented adversary.
Now, an article on this topic, written in the fall of 2019 by two oppositional (then) authors, has returned to all conceivable sites. It got a second life because one author, Jake Sullivan, is now Biden’s national security adviser, and the other, Kurt Campbell, is the coordinator of all and every Asian policy of the same Biden. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is a lightweight and performer by comparison.
This couple in 2019 said: a confrontation with China for many decades and in all conceivable areas – there is such a confrontation that the cold war with the USSR seems simpler and more primitive. It is not necessary to hope that China will suddenly take over and collapse. America has not had anything like this since the 1940s, and now it will require (to begin with) an internal restructuring and mobilization of all the reserves of the nation.
In particular, you will have to learn step by step to combine competition and coexistence with a country that serves as the first trading partner for two-thirds of the world’s countries, incl-uding US allies (that is, t-hose that Biden has now g-one to). And all these allies will be very careful in their movements towards one or another competing power.
In one of the discussions of that time, in 2019, the authors noticed: no divorce of the two economies and building of two isolated systems will work. Just traveling around the world and scolding China is useless, you need to create your own system, which will be superior to the Chinese one in some way. That is, together with the allies, try to create such rules in trade and international life, which it will be unprofitable for China not to comply with.
And here, before our eyes, an attempt is being made to implement this program, first of all by offering the US allies not only “blood, sweat and tears,” but something good in the economic sphere, some kind of compensation for the inconvenience. It is believed that the most striking part of Biden’s trip was to be the presentation of the new “Indo-Pacific” economic initiative – IPEF. Something hastily cobbled together according to the same principle: “the rules must be ours” (that is, American). At the same time, you can include Taiwan there and see how Beijing will be upset.
As a result, it turns out that some countries of the region prudently enroll in several such projects at once, which boil down to one formula: we give you open markets without customs barriers, and you give us compliance with our rules.
One such project, the Chinese one, works well, the other seems to be Japanese (the remnant of the American Trans-Pacific Partnership, buried under President Trump). And this is not the whole list. The construction as a whole is artificial and confusing, except for the collision of the American principle of “partnership of mutual sacrifices” with the Chinese – a world open to all and trading without political restrictions.

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