Washington Aims to Build a New “Axis of Containment” of China in Asia-Pacific

The Biden Administration held its first “trilateral” summit with the leaders of Japan and the Philippines on April 13, as part of the effort to build a chain of containment around China in the region, which would be a step toward creating an Indo-Pacific NATO. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, always eager to bow to the will of the Americans, is playing a key role in this scenario. As U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel put it, the “trilateral” meet is an attempt to “flip the script” and to isolate China from former friends in the region

The Biden Administration also provided an opportunity for Prime Minister Kishida to address the Congress on April 11, where he gave a speech (in English) which was undoubtedly choreographed and possibly written by Biden’s National Security Council, calling among other things for the elected representatives to provide more aid to Ukraine. Joe Biden also made the somewhat dubious promise that an astronaut from Japan, which is working together with the U.S. in competing with China in space, will have the privilege of being the first non-American to land on the Moon. However, the U.S., with its planned Artemis program, has a way to go before getting to the Moon, and may not get there before China, which is developing its space capabilities at a breathtaking pace.

While Japan has not yet been invited to join the Anglo-American AUKUS group of the U.S., Great Britain, and Australia, Fumio Kishida is doing everything in his power legislatively to change the Japanese defense policy into a more “pro-active” policy of projecting force in the region. Joining AUKUS, which would allow Japan to have nuclear-driven submarines, would be a first step toward making it a nuclear power. Dreams of Japan’s World War II objectives of creating its own Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere are far from dead in some circles in Japan.

Most significant was the presence in this new “axis” of the Philippines, the junior member of the clan. Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has shifted radically from his initial policy of rapprochement with China. The territorial claims of the Philippines, which have come into conflict with those of China, are supported by the West. Already, there have been confrontations between Chinese and Philippine vessels in the disputed area, which have up until now only involved fire hoses and not bullets. But with the U.S. assuring Marcos that the U.S. and Japan “have his back”, he may become even more aggressive in facing off with China, becoming the same kind of “trigger” that Ukraine has become in NATO’s war with Russia.

President Biden noted with great fanfare that the U.S. has had a longer relationship with the Philippines than with any other country in the region. He neglected to add that it began when the Philippines became a U.S. colony after the U.S. Army fought – and won — a bloody war with Filipino rebels. While Biden may neglect this history, the people of the Philippines have not, and the continued moves by President Marcos to transform the country again into a virtual colony of the U.S. could provoke serious problems for his government.

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