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Rock Islands on the Pacific Ocean

China is playing the long game in the Pacific. Here’s why its efforts are beginning to pay off

by Graeme Smith

A week-long trip to Beijing by the Pacific’s most flamboyant statesman Manasseh Sogavare, was always going to cause concern in Canberra. The substance of the visit was as expected. The relationship between China and the Solomon Islands was upgraded to a “comprehensive strategic partnership” (on par with Papua New Guinea, the first Pacific nation to sign up to the Belt and Road Initiative). Nine agreements were also signed covering everything from civil aviation and infrastructure to fisheries and tourism. The Chinese premier, Li Qiang, who inked the deals with Sogavare, made a point of not mentioning the controversial policing cooperation agreement, the draft of which was leaked more than a year ago to New Zealand academic Anna Powles. Despite repeated calls from Australia and New Zealand to release the text of the policing agreement, there is no indication the Chinese or the Solomon Islands leadership will do so. There were also moments of theatre in Sogavare’s trip. The prime minister declared “I’m back home” when he arrived in Beijing in a clip posted by China Global Television Network. He then said in a longer interview on the same network that his nation had been “on the wrong side of history” for the 36 years it recognised Taiwan instead of the People’s Republic of China, and lauded President Xi Jinping as a “great man”. Sogavare saved his biggest serve for his return to the Solomon Islands, though. He accused Australia and New Zealand of withdrawing crucial budget support and hinted he would look to China to fulfil his ambitions to establish an armed forces, should Australia be unwilling to help.China’s slow start in the PacificSome key questions have been overlooked this week in the pantomime about what Australia should or shouldn’t do to shore up its relationship with an important Pacific partner. (We could start by accepting that Sogavare will never love us, and avoid getting into an arms race in the Solomon Islands with China.) What’s been somewhat lost, though, is how China has made inroads so quickly in a region that it still officially classifies as “peripheral”. China has certainly had to work harder to gain a foothold in the region. Relative to other regions, it has a lack of historical state ties with the Pacific. In Africa and Southeast Asia, China can draw on memories of shared anti-colonial struggles and aid projects like the Tanzam railway. In the Pacific, the Chinese Communist Party is a latecomer. Also holding it back is the remoteness and small population of the region. This has not made the Pacific a good fit for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which has flourished in countries with rapid transport and communication links, substantial Chinese diasporas and leaders who are easily reached. Most of China’s own Pacific experts were baffled when the region was belatedly included in the project. Yet despite these obstacles, it’s clear the Chinese state’s approach in the Pacific has shifted, most remarkably in its diplomacy and the role state-linked companies are expected to play. Diplomats with serious intent China’s wolf warrior diplomacy has received plenty of attention, but the picture in the Pacific is less straightforward. The recently appointed special envoy to the Pacific, Qian Bo, undoubtedly styles himself as a wolf warrior. Under his tenure as Fijian ambassador, a Taiwanese representative was assaulted by Chinese diplomats for the crime of displaying a Taiwanese flag cake. Yet, other appointments suggest China is appointing higher-calibre diplomats to the region. These include Li Ming, the current ambassador to the Solomon Islands, and Xue Bing, the former ambassador to Papua New Guinea who now holds the challenging post of special envoy to the Horn of Africa. With experience in the region and good language skills, these diplomats have been more able to engage with Pacific communities than their predecessors, who largely focused on sending good news back to Beijing. More serious representatives suggest more serious intent.Chinese companies exerting influence, tooChina’s state-linked companies remain the driving force behind China’s engagement with the Pacific. Unlike the embassies, they are well-resourced and have skin in the game. Many company men (in construction, where Chinese companies dominate, they’re mostly men) are based in the region for decades, developing a deep understanding of how to win projects and influence political elites. Failed projects generate plenty of headlines, but many companies – such as COVEC PNG and China Railway First Group – are effective operators. They are building infrastructure cheaply in the Pacific and winning the favour of multilateral donors, particularly the Asian Development Bank. For larger state-linked companies, like China Harbor Engineering Company and the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), the geopolitical game has shifted. In the past, they could rely on their standing within the Chinese political system (their parent companies often outrank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to resist pressure to act on behalf of state. Now, they are expected to carry geopolitical water for Beijing. Often this can benefit the companies. For instance, when CCECC lobbied the Solomon Islands leadership to switch their allegiance from Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China, it helped the company when it came to bidding for projects for the Pacific Games in Honiara. The leaders of these companies realise it can harm their image when they are seen as Beijing’s pawns. Yet, the companies, diplomats and Pacific leaders who choose Beijing’s embrace know times have changed. China is now a serious player in the region with a development philosophy to sell. It’s no longer enough to read Beijing’s talking points. You have to look like you mean it.

Defense & Security
Indonesia ASEAN summit 2023 logo

Why China Supports the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone

by Hoang Thi Ha

Since 1999, China has expressed its readiness to sign the SEANWFZ Protocol and is the only Nuclear Weapon State willing to do so without reservations. This Long Read explores China’s strategic considerations behind this stance. INTRODUCTION The Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) or Bangkok Treaty was signed on 15 December 1995 by the ten Southeast Asian states and entered into force on 28 March 1997. The States Parties to the Treaty are therewith obliged to ensure peaceful use of nuclear energy, and not to develop or acquire nuclear weapons, test nuclear explosive devices, or dump radioactive wastes within the zone. The Treaty includes a Protocol that is open to accession by the five recognised Nuclear Weapon States (NWS or P5), namely China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US), whose support and recognition are critical to the efficacy of SEANWFZ. The NWSs’ accession to the Protocol would entail their obligation to respect the Treaty, refrain from acts that may violate the Treaty, and provide negative security assurances (NSA), i.e., not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against the SEANWFZ States Parties and within the zone. SEANWFZ is one of five nuclear weapon-free zones (NWFZ), which are seen as providing “the regional pathway” towards the ultimate goal of a nuclear weapon-free world. SEANWFZ was also considered an interim measure towards achieving the 1971 Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN). Spearheaded by Malaysia, ZOPFAN aimed to achieve a Southeast Asia “free from any form or manner of interference by outside powers” but its realisation has been elusive, given that Southeast Asia is historically and geographically intertwined with the major powers’ strategic interests, and some regional states still maintain security alliances or close security ties with external powers. ZOPFAN’s ahistorical idealism was embedded in SEANWFZ’s key provisions regarding its expansive geographical coverage and the extensive scope of the NSA. This is the underlying reason for the lack of progress in getting the P5 – except China – to sign its Protocol up to now. China has been an outlier among the P5 in that it has expressed its intent to sign the Protocol since the late 1990s, shortly after the Treaty’s entry into force. The regional security environment has since deteriorated drastically with the intensification of US-China strategic tensions. Yet, China’s interest in SEANWFZ remains strong, and arguably has even increased as it sees itself as the target of a US-led strategy of “containment, encirclement and suppression”. This Perspective examines the legal and geopolitical intricacies of SEANWFZ that underlie China’s longstanding willingness to sign its Protocol in contrast to other NWSs. It argues that beyond non-proliferation considerations, supporting SEANWFZ serves China’s security interests amid its heightened tensions with the US and its allies. THE LONG JOURNEY OF GETTING THE P5 TO SIGN THE PROTOCOL The SEANWFZ States Parties – which are also the ten ASEAN member states – have held many consultations with the NWSs to persuade the latter to accede to the Protocol. The NWSs have objections and concerns regarding some substantive provisions of the Treaty and its Protocol (Table 1). • Expansive geographical scope Article 2 of the SEANWFZ Treaty states that the Treaty and its Protocol shall apply to the territories, exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and continental shelves (CS) of its States Parties. The inclusion of EEZ and CS is a unique feature of SEANWFZ that exceeds the standard coverage of only territories as in other NWFZs. It also goes beyond the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which prescribes the sovereign rights of a coastal state only with respect to the living and non-living resources in its EEZ and CS. The legal regime of EEZ and CS under UNCLOS is a delicate balance between the rights of coastal states and the freedoms of ocean user states. It remains a subject of contention between the majority of UN members, which hold that all states have the right to conduct military operations in any EEZ, and a minority of around 20 states (including China and some Southeast Asian states such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand), which impose restrictions on military operations by foreign powers in their EEZ. The inclusion of EEZ and CS in the geographical coverage of SEANWFZ is even more problematic due to the unresolved competing territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea (SCS) among some Southeast Asian states and China. • Port visits and transit rights Article 3.2 of the Treaty forbids a State Party from developing, manufacturing, possessing, having control over, stationing, transporting, testing or using nuclear weapons. The US, UK and France maintain that there is a conflict between this article and Article 7 on the prerogative of a State Party to allow visits by foreign ships/aircraft to its ports/airfields or their transit in its territorial sea. These NWSs want to ensure that the Treaty would not impinge on their port visits and transit rights in the region (since these NWSs maintain the policy to neither confirm nor deny [NCND] the presence of nuclear weapons at a given location, the possibility that their visiting/transiting ships/aircraft in the region are nuclear-armed cannot be entirely ruled out). They insist on a clarification to ensure that Article 7 takes precedence over Article 3.2.• Extensive negative security assurances The NSA clause in the SEANWFZ Protocol requires that the NWSs commit not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any SEANWFZ State Party and not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons within the zone. The latter part – “within the zone” – is problematic to the NWSs on two levels. First, the geographical application of SEANWFZ is not only expansive (involving the EEZ and CS of its States Parties) but also indeterminate (because of the territorial and maritime disputes in the SCS). Second, it would mean that an NWS cannot use nuclear weapons against another NWS within this expansive and indeterminate zone and cannot use nuclear weapons from within this expansive and indeterminate zone against targets outside the zone. This is well beyond the NSA that the NWSs traditionally extend to other NWFZs, which is limited to not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against the territories of the zonal countries. • China’s sovereignty and maritime interests Unlike France, Russia, the UK and the US (the P4), China rarely stakes out its position with regard to the above-mentioned outstanding issues. China’s only stated concern vis-à-vis SEANWFZ is that the Treaty and its Protocol might contradict or undermine its territorial and maritime rights and interests in the SCS. To address this concern, during the consultations in 2010-2012, the SEANWFZ States Parties and China agreed that they would sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) stating that the Treaty and its Protocol shall not affect their respective territories, EEZ and CS. Table 1: Outstanding Issues Regarding NWS’s Accession to the SEANWFZ Protocol Source: Author Despite several consultations between the SEANWFZ States Parties and the P5 held in the late 1990s and early 2000s, these outstanding issues were not resolved, and the matter was put on the backburner. The momentum to get the P5 to sign the Protocol was revived in 2010-2011, in part due to the importance that the Obama administration accorded to strengthening the international non-proliferation regime. To address the outstanding issues, the SEANWFZ States Parties and the P5 negotiated a revised Protocol to the effect that: (i) in the EEZ and CS of the SEANWFZ States Parties, the P5 shall adhere to only Article 3.3 of the Treaty that bans the dumping of radioactive material/wastes; (ii) the SEANWFZ States Parties shall retain the prerogative to allow port visits and transit of foreign ships/aircraft pursuant to Article 7; and (iii) the P5’s NSA commitment shall be limited to not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against the SEANWFZ States Parties. The scheduled signing of the revised Protocol by the P5 in July 2012 was forestalled by the reservations lodged at the eleventh hour by France, Russia and the UK. Some reservations by France or the UK state that accession to the Protocol shall not impair a NWS’ right of self-defence; a NWS can retract/review its obligations vis-à-vis a SEANWFZ State Party that ceases to be a party to the NPT, or breaches its non-proliferation obligations under the SEANWFZ Treaty, or develops other weapons of mass destruction. The most controversial reservation was made by Russia, which stated that it would not consider itself bound by the Protocol if a Southeast Asian state allowed foreign ships/aircraft carrying nuclear weapons to enter its territorial waters/airspace or to visit its ports/airfields. Given the NCND policy of some NWSs, the Russian reservation would put undue pressure on the SEANWFZ States Parties and challenge their prerogative to exercise their rights under Article 7. Due to the objection of some SEANWFZ States Parties to some or all of these reservations, the P5’s accession to the Protocol was put on hold, and the issue has been in hiatus since 2012. CHINA’S POSITION AND INTEREST VIS-À-VIZ SEANWFZ China’s readiness to sign the Protocol is a longstanding position that was registered as early as 1999. Beijing has indicated on various occasions that it is willing to be the first NWS to sign the Protocol, and to do so without reservations. The Chinese intent was reiterated by Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang during his meeting with the ASEAN secretary-general in March 2023. This article argues that China adopts a favourable approach towards SEANWFZ because the Treaty fits in with its nuclear doctrine and national security strategy, and accession to the Protocol could provide both geostrategic and diplomatic dividends for China. China’s No First Use policy China’s nuclear doctrine has been evolving in keeping with its growing nuclear capabilities and the changes in its external security environment. Yet, it still retains the self-defensive posture and the policy of unconditional No First Use (NFU) of nuclear weapons, which is reiterated in China’s 2019 Defence White Paper: “China is always committed to a nuclear policy of no first use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and not using or threatening to use nuclear weaponsagainst non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones unconditionally (emphasis added).” To China’s credit, it is the only P5 country maintaining an unconditional NFU policy, which makes the Chinese nuclear doctrine less aggressive than those of other NWSs. Since China’s NSA commitment to Southeast Asian countries is well within the bounds of its NFU policy, its accession to the Protocol is more straightforward than that of the P4. China’s sea-based nuclear force China’s self-defensive nuclear policy seeks to maintain a “lean and effective” nuclear deterrence based on first-strike survival and second-strike capabilities. In the nuclear triad of an NWS – i.e., land-based nuclear missiles, strategic bombers, and ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) – SSBNs are considered “the primary guarantor of second-strike capabilities” given their advantages in stealth and survivability. However, noisiness is the Achilles’ heel of Chinese SSBNs – from the Type 092 Xia-class in the 1970s-1990s to the newer Type 094 Jin-class – which makes them vulnerable to anti-submarine warfare and limits their ability to navigate far beyond the Chinese shores. It should be noted that the Chinese submarine fleet is home-ported at Yulin Naval Base on Hainan Island in the SCS; given its expansive claims in the SCS, China could justify the presence and operations of its SSBNs in these waters as falling well within its sovereignty and jurisdiction. Meanwhile, if the P4 respected the expansive geographic coverage of the SEANWFZ Treaty and the extensive NSA in the original Protocol – which is extremely unlikely, if not impossible – it would significantly undercut the deployment of their nuclear assets – particularly SSBNs – in a large swathe of maritime area in China’s southern vicinity, which would in turn enhance China’s strategic security and the defence of its sea-based nuclear deterrence. China’s anti-access/area-denial strategy China’s support for SEANWFZ is rooted in the strategic assessment that such an extended zone – if implemented – would contribute to the country’s anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) strategy which is aimed at denying the military power projection of superior adversaries in China’s near neighbourhood. Apart from investing in anti-ship, anti-air, anti-ballistic weapons and anti-submarine capabilities for its A2/AD system, China has also fostered regional arrangements and agreements that could be leveraged to delegitimise or discredit the military presence of foreign powers in the region. These include the SEANWFZ Treaty, as well as China’s proposal for a treaty on good neighbourliness, friendship and cooperation with ASEAN, China’s attempt to prevent Southeast Asian countries from conducting military exercises with foreign powers through a code of conduct in the SCS (COC), and its recent Global Security Initiative that embraces the ‘indivisible security’ concept. China’s sovereignty and maritime claims in the SCS Theoretically, if all NWSs accede to the SEANWFZ Protocol, they would be bound by the same legal obligations therein. However, the strategic security effect for the P4 and China would be significantly different because only the latter is located within the region. While the P4 are concerned about the undefined geographical scope of the zone due to the ongoing territorial and maritime disputes in the SCS, such ambiguity may work to China’s advantage. China has excessive sovereignty and maritime claims within its Nine-Dash Line that covers around 90% of the SCS. The coverage of China’s claims has been extended further with its ‘Four Sha’ concept whereby China asserts all maritime zones, including internal waters, territorial seas, contiguous zone, EEZ and CS, based on the so-called “four outlying archipelagos” in the SCS (Pratas, Paracels, Spratlys and Macclesfield Bank), which it is not allowed to do under UNCLOS as a continental state. China has demanded that an MoU be signed to ensure that neither the Treaty nor the Protocol shall affect its territory and maritime entitlements. This would effectively guarantee China’s free hand in defining the geographical scope of SEANWFZ in a flexible and selective manner that best serves its interests. For example, China may challenge nuclear deployments of other NWSs in the zone as violations of SEANWFZ but it can justify the presence of its nuclear assets in the zone on the grounds that such deployment takes place within China’s (claimed) territory and jurisdiction. Responsible nuclear weapon state discourse Since France, Russia, the UK and the US do not accept the extraordinary terms of the SEANWFZ Treaty and its original Protocol regarding the inclusion of EEZ and CS and the NSA commitment within the zone, SEANFWZ has no legal effect in preventing these countries from deploying their nuclear assets in regional waters beyond the territories of its States Parties. However, by signalling its readiness to sign the Protocol first and without reservations, China can turn SEANWFZ into a discursive and political weapon to project itself as a responsible nuclear power and claim the moral high ground in criticising the nuclear policy of the US and its allies as well as their nuclear assets in regional waters. Hence, SEANWFZ – and China’s interest in signing its Protocol – has gained greater salience in China’s regional diplomacy after the launch of the Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) tripartite security partnership in 2021, which aims to provide Australia with nuclear-powered (but conventionally armed) attack submarines. The Chinese government believes that AUKUS would “form an underwater military encirclement against China”. It has also argued that AUKUS violates the nuclear non-proliferation regime and has invoked SEANWFZ to criticise the deal. In March 2023, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said that AUKUS “undercuts ASEAN countries’ effort to establish SEANWFZ and seriously undermines the ASEAN-centred regional cooperation architecture in East Asia”. Chinese commentaries state that China’s willingness to sign the Protocol is a manifestation of its “due responsibility as a major power that seeks peaceful development” and contrasts its position with the “irresponsible behaviours of the AUKUS countries”. CONCLUSION The SEANWFZ States Parties maintain a longstanding position that all outstanding issues with the NWSs should be resolved in a ‘package deal’ so as to enable their accession to the Protocol concurrently. Therefore, China has not been able to sign the Protocol despite its express intent to do so for decades. However, the rapidly deteriorating global strategic environment may warrant a rethink by the SEANWFZ States Parties on the ‘package deal’. The US and Russia – the two largest nuclear powers – have taken steps to walk back from their arms control obligations, including US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and Russia’s suspension of its participation in the New START. Closer to home in East Asia, the race to develop nuclear capabilities is gathering pace. China is expanding and upgrading its nuclear arsenal and may become an atomic peer of the US and Russia by the 2030s, according to the US’ 2022 Nuclear Posture Review. America’s withdrawal from the INF raises the concern that Washington may introduce short-range ballistic and cruise missiles in Asia. The US’ Asian allies, while stopping short of developing nuclear weapons, are re-arming themselves to deal with nuclear threats (Australia with nuclear-powered attack submarines, Japan with counter-strike capabilities, and South Korea with submarine-launched ballistic missiles and its public debate on the need to acquire nuclear weapons). They are also seeking to consolidate the US’ nuclear deterrence umbrella in the region. Most ominously, Russia’s nuclear blackmail in its war against Ukraine draws home the vulnerabilities of non-nuclear-weapon states in the face of great-power bullying. Against this backdrop – and with China’s diplomatic activism – the SEANWFZ States Parties may drop the ‘package deal’ approach to pave the way for China’s accession to the Protocol. After all, it is a common practice that NWSs accede to other NWFZs’ protocols at different points of time. Apart from China’s NSA – which is already covered under its NFU policy – China’s accession would add a legal guarantee that it would not dump radioactive wastes in the zone, exert political pressure on other NWSs to follow suit, and raise the profile of SEANWFZ at a time when “the risk of nuclear weapons use is higher than at any time since the Cold War”. Yet, China’s accession would raise several legal and policy questions for the SEANWFZ States Parties. First, should China sign the original Protocol or the revised Protocol? Since the original is a non-starter for the remaining NWSs, using the revised Protocol would minimise legal complications when the SEANWFZ States Parties re-negotiate with them in the future. It is also important to ponder the implications of the above-mentioned MoU which would give China a free hand in defining the geographical scope of SEANWFZ in ways that serve its interests, possibly at the expense of those of SEANWFZ States Parties and other NWSs. Last but not least, China’s accession to the Protocol would be a strategic and diplomatic win for Beijing in its enduring quest to displace external military power from the region. In the final analysis, China values SEANWFZ not only because it is a regional non-proliferation regime per se but because its terms serve China’s strategic security in discrediting the nuclear forward deployment by foreign powers in China’s near neighbourhood. Now, as before, SEANWFZ States Parties remain confronted with the chasm between their nuclear weapon-free aspirations and their security interests from a balance of power in the region. This is as much a problem of strategic incoherence among the States Parties themselves as it is about their substantive differences with the NWSs.

Defense & Security
President Xi Jinping shaking hands with Vladimir Putin

The Chinese are not “tolerant”: they are preparing a global counteroffensive

by Yuri Tavrovsky

Moscow-Beijing: combat coordination is growing. Powerful cold currents from the West determine the political atmosphere of the planet. Efforts are being made to counter them with warm currents from the East. Only the synergy of actions between Russia and China prevents the the consolidated camp of hegemony from entering the "final and decisive battle" against each of these recalcitrant powers individually. We are well aware of the situation on the western front of the global Cold War. However, on the eastern front, where there is no Ukrainian-scale conflict yet, tensions are approaching critical levels. Defense-related Chinese trade publications have published some very disturbing material in recent weeks. ... To destroy the latest American nuclear aircraft carrier Gerald Ford and the battle group accompanying it from a cruiser and 5 missile frigates, 24 hypersonic missiles without nuclear warheads were enough. In a computer simulation, rocket launches were carried out from 6 different areas, including even the Gobi Desert in Northwest China. Considered unsinkable, the carrier group was completely destroyed by a series of launches of distracting and damaging missiles. The Chinese took into account the capabilities of both the standard set of anti-aircraft weapons and the latest American SM-3 anti-missiles. According to the scenario described in the Chinese-language Journal of Test and Measurement, the American armada entered the waters of the South China Sea and continued to move in a menacing course, despite warnings. Similar scenarios play out regularly near Chinese shores. Another Chinese publication spoke about the mortal danger of such actions. The South China Morning Post, published in Hong Kong in English, reported that the war between China and the United States could begin in the South China Sea. On January 5, 2021, three US Navy anti-submarine aircraft searched for Chinese submarines near the Dongsha Qundao (Pratas) archipelago. Reconnaissance aircraft, as always, dropped electronic buoys and tracked the routes of Chinese submarines that were participating in major exercises. However, one plane flew too close to China, and Chinese fighters flew in from there. The Chinese regarded the situation as a huge threat to national security. There was a possibility of an armed conflict, and the Americans, taking into account the unfolding actions of the PRC Air Force and Navy, began to prepare for the worst and even destroyed expensive buoys with top-secret equipment. The description of the conflict in the Chinese specialized magazine Shipboard Electronic Countermeasures does not give details of the confrontation. However, everything was very, very serious. No wonder the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States, General Mark Milley, made a phone call to the Chinese Minister of Defense a couple of days later, assuring him that the Pentagon had no intention of provoking a real war. He even promised to inform his counterparts in Beijing in advance about the intentions of policymakers in the event of a critical situation. These two sensational publications did not appear by accident. One can only guess how many dangerous situations arise on the line of contact between the military of China and America in the Asia-Pacific basin. But, as the Chinese proverb says, “Heaven proposes, Xi Jinping disposes.” The Supreme Commander, acting at the strategic level of planning and decision-making, is responding to Washington's growing aggressiveness by demonstrating readiness for retaliatory actions on the battlefield and intensifying combat coordination with Russia. Planned for April, Xi Jinping's visit to Moscow was postponed to the end of March, and negotiations with Vladimir Putin lasted a total of 8 hours. Even not so much the published documents as the subsequent events showed qualitative changes in the partnership between Moscow and Beijing. The time has come for all-round combat coordination. It began with hours of face-to-face talks between the two supreme commanders. Soon, Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu came to Moscow. After the visit of an experienced and energetic military commander, Chen Wenqing, curator of internal and external intelligence services, arrived in Moscow. Reports of his meetings with the secretary of our Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, showed the resolute attitude of the chief intelligence officer of the Celestial Empire towards the West. For its part, the Kremlin decided to reinforce the dynamics of combat coordination with a "volley of the main guns." A delegation of high-ranking officials and business leaders headed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin headed to Beijing, unprecedented in size and level. The visit was prepared in a hurry and took place under the vigilant eye of the Western intelligence services. Therefore, the number and quality of signed agreements disappointed the optimists. But the bilateral meetings of officials, bankers and experts of the two countries that took place on the sidelines advanced the ongoing negotiations on strategic areas of cooperation and prepared serious deals. During the visit, influential publications noted the mutual interest of both countries in the accelerated growth of trade. Thus, the Global Times, which is close to the CCP Central Committee, noted the synergy of the two trends. Russia needs to increase the export of raw materials, especially energy. Against the backdrop of a rapid economic recovery, China needs to expand imports of the same oil and gas, agricultural products and other types of raw materials. The development of China's relations with the West repeats the history of the deterioration of Russia's relations with the West. The sanctions already imposed on China will be tightened. Access to sources of raw materials and markets will become a priority for Beijing for the foreseeable future. We should not turn a blind eye to the reaction of some Chinese experts and blogosphere activists to the arrival in Beijing of Mikhail Mishustin at the head of a thousandth army of the Russian elite. The emphasis is not even so much on the vital need for Moscow to receive income from trade with China as on the desirability of not offending the West, leaving the door open for relations with America. However, after 40 years of Chinese-American marriage of convenience, it would be naive to expect a quick change of shoes. There does not seem to be any improvement in relations between America and China, despite Biden's hints and the visit of Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao to the United States. Overcoming the pathological hatred of politicians for China, business people in Washington continue to do business even in the most adverse conditions. In 2022, bilateral trade reached an all-time high of $691 billion. At the same time, the Americans were able to sell their goods to the Chinese for less than 154 billion. The reduction or abolition of duties, which President Trump began to introduce back in 2018 and President Biden is increasing, could help improve the quality and further increase trade. They cost each American family $1,000 a year. However, the prospects for curtailing the trade war are very illusory. The White House and both houses of the US Congress are on the warpath. Any attempt to improve US-China relations ends in scandal—Pelosi's scandalous trip, the big white ball... The same fate awaits current hopes. The visit of Pelosi's heir, Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy to Taiwan is being prepared. At the G7 summit in Tokyo, there was a military coordination between NATO and Japan. China, along with Russia, is designated in the final documents as the main enemy. The bloc's regional headquarters is to be opened in Tokyo. It is impossible to get rid of historical parallels. Similarly, in 1936, Japan concluded the Anti-Comintern Pact with Nazi Germany, directed against the Soviet Union. A few months later, the emboldened Japanese began an all-out war against the Celestial Empire, capturing Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Nanjing in 1937. Only the diplomatic, military and financial assistance of the Soviet Union prevented the capitulation of the Republic of China along the lines of France. Stubbornly resisting China, in turn, prevented Tokyo from attacking the USSR at the already appointed time - August 29, 1941. Then there were two fronts - Soviet and Chinese. Now the situation is repeating itself. The Chinese were not patient. They were defending then. Now, relying on a reliable Russian rear, they launched a counteroffensive. Thanks to Beijing's 12-point peace plan for Ukraine and Xi Jinping's phone call with Zelensky, China is destroying the Yellow Threat stereotype at minimal cost in the European theater and strengthening its image as a peacemaker. There is competition with America. The first study trip to Kyiv, Paris, Berlin, Brussels and Moscow of Special Representative Xi Jinping, Ambassador Li Hui, has just ended. It was preceded by trips of "heavyweights" - Chinese Vice President Han Zheng, foreign policy curator on the party line Wang Yi, Foreign Minister Qin Gang. Another area of China's global counteroffensive is to prevent the West from filling the strategic vacuum in Central Asia. That was the task of the summit of the five countries of this region and China in Xi'an, the ancient capital of several Chinese dynasties. This also meets the strategic interests of Moscow. The combat coordination of the two mighty powers of the Eurasian continent is gaining momentum and taking on new forms. How can one not recall that in March, Xi Jinping, when saying goodbye to Vladimir Putin on the steps of the Grand Kremlin Palace, said: “Now there are changes that have not happened in 100 years, and we are driving these changes.” Putin's answer was short but meaningful: "I agree."

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during a speech in parliament.

Japanese PM Kishida’s struggle for political survival

by Professor Purnendra Jain and Takeshi Kobayash

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are facing one of the worst financial scandals in decades, resulting in growing public distrust of the party and threatening the stability of his government. The Kishida government, which took office in October 2021, was already facing headwinds as its cabinet’s popularity declined due to concerns about the economy, social security and the LDP’s links to the Unification Church. The assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe in 2022 during an election campaign further complicates matters. The assailant claimed that Abe supported the Unification Church, which he said caused his family’s bankruptcy and forced his mother into making donations. Many other LDP parliamentarians are known supporters of the Church. Kishida and the LDP are yet to be transparent about this issue. Despite falling popularity, the LDP’s approval ratings hovered in the 30s between October and November 2023. Analysts suggested that, despite his low popularity, Kishida would continue and that there were no imminent threats to his prime ministership. That scenario changed dramatically at the close of November 2023. One poll suggests that Kishida’s cabinet approval rate has plummeted to 17 per cent, marking the lowest prime ministerial approval rating since the LDP regained power in 2012. The drop in popularity occurred after it was revealed that LDP factions and the individual parliamentarians associated with them had failed to report all revenues from ticket sales at fundraising events. The slush fund, estimated to be millions of dollars, was used for political purposes, violating the Public Funds Control Law. The Public Prosecutors Office has launched investigations into the LDP’s largest and most influential faction, the Seiwakai, commonly referred to as the Abe faction. Reports suggest that four other major factions, including the one led by Kishida, might also be implicated. Kishida has replaced four key cabinet ministers from the Abe faction. The position of Chief Cabinet Secretary — which serves as the face of the government — has gone to Yoshimasa Hayashi. Kishida had removed Hayashi from his position as foreign minister and, facing difficulty in persuading other colleagues to assume the Chief Cabinet Secretary position, Kishida opted for Hayashi, a member of his own faction. The other three ministerial positions went to factions led by Taro Aso, Toshimitsu Motegi and Hiroshi Moriyama. The cabinet reshuffle does not address the core problem — money politics. Money politics remains endemic in Japan’s political system, despite past reforms. In the 1970s, former prime minister Kakuei Tanaka resigned due to a bribery scandal. Following Tanaka’s resignation, the LDP sought to regain public trust by turning to ‘Mr Clean’, former prime minister Takeo Miki. But it was not long before another large-scale financial scandal — the Recruit Scandal — emerged in the late 1980s. The scandal led to former prime minister Noboru Takeshita’s resignation, his secretary’s suicide and the resignation of many high-profile politicians. Takeshita’s successor, former prime minister Sosuke Uno, resigned within months following revelations of sexual misconduct. Amid the scandals, the LDP called in another Mr Clean, former prime minister Toshiki Kaifu. But the LDP’s troubles persisted. The 1993 Sagawa Kyubin financial scandal resulted in the arrest and subsequent imprisonment of LDP ‘strongman’ Shin Kanemaru on tax evasion charges. These scandals ultimately led to the LDP’s electoral defeat in 1993, marking what was supposed to be a new era in Japanese politics. But opposition parties have struggled to win government and sustain it. The LDP regained power within two years of its 1993 defeat. Similarly, the LDP returned to government within three years by defeating the Democratic Party of Japan in 2012. Even during the Abe administration, reports of financial scandals emerged. But Abe’s strong popularity allowed him to survive. The current fundraising scandal and its scale are still unfolding. More resignations are likely. Many details regarding the unlawful accumulation of political funds remain unknown. The Public Prosecutors Office may shed light on the scandal after its investigation. Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, Kishida’s position appears untenable. Though not directly implicated like Tanaka, Takeshita and Uno in the past, the public expects Kishida, as President of the LDP, to own up to the rot in the party and step down. Despite the reshuffle of his cabinet and his statement committing to spearhead reforms in the LDP, it will be a political miracle if he survives this scandal ahead of the LDP presidential election in September 2024. The LDP and its Prime Minister face a choice. They can follow the same path as their predecessors by temporarily presenting a ‘clean’ face and then reverting back to business as usual. Alternatively, the new generation of LDP politicians can challenge the established path and set a different course for the party, one that is policy-focused, transparent, less factional and not hereditary. But it remains uncertain whether the new generation of LDP politicians is inclined to take on this challenge. The opposition parties remain weak, fragmented and unable to replace the LDP. Yet they play a crucial role in keeping the LDP government accountable. Without the Japanese Communist Party’s scrutiny, the present fundraising scandal might never have come to light.

Defense & Security
Oceania political map. Region, centered on central Pacific Ocean islands with Australia

Australia should not overstate the threat of China in the Pacific, and mend relationships in the region

by Melissa Conley Tyler

The signing of a security agreement between Solomon Islands and China in April 2022 brought geopolitical competition and militarisation in the Pacific to the fore of public discussion. Australian policymakers and the public are concerned about the potential for a Chinese military base in the Pacific region. They harbour wider concerns that China’s influence is becoming sharper and more destructive. At a time of intensifying geostrategic competition, Australia may feel pressure to take a short-term and transactional approach towards the Pacific. Such crisis thinking would be unnecessary and counterproductive. Australia should frame its relationship with the Pacific in terms of long-term, generational partnership. It should be responsive to the Pacific’s priorities for development with a clear eye on a shared, long-term future. The Pacific will always be of great strategic significance for Australia. Peace and stability in Pacific island countries goes to the heart of Australia’s security, prosperity and national interest. This means Australia’s interest in the region, and the attention it pays to it, should remain clear, consistent and coherent, irrespective of whether there are crises or not. Genuine, consistent Australian engagement should address each Pacific island country’s unique needs through both bilateral and regional Pacific-led initiatives. There is a danger that a focus on China could overtake other priorities. This would undermine trust and lead to Australia’s diplomatic intentions not always being well-received. If Australia privileges its own institutional requirements and solutions above local agency and solutions, it can feed negative perceptions about Australia’s intent. Foreign Minister Penny Wong has spent much time in the Pacific since Labor won office. AAP/AP/Department of Foreign AffairsWhen Pacific leaders look at regional security they have an expanded view, which includes climate change, human security, gender equality, environmental and resource security, transnational crime and cybersecurity. This reflects insecurity in the Pacific at multiple levels: - globally, as a warming planet presents ecological and civilisational threats- regionally, as players and relationships change- nationally, as countries respond to the effects of COVID-19, natural disasters, illegal fishing, transnational crime and other threats, compounded by gender inequality- locally, where community leaders and security agencies struggle to control violence and conflicts in several countries. In some areas, law and order challenges and the proliferation of firearms mean the risks to individual safety and tribal and political violence are extremely real. These shared challenges and mutual threats require the long-term attention of Australia and Pacific island countries. We need to move beyond paying lip service to each others’ security concerns and develop a common security framework that responds to the full set of peace and security challenges in the Pacific. This requires deepening relationships and making sure shared concerns are not lost along the way. The good news is there are strong foundations to work on in Australia-Pacific co-operation. Australia has security co-operation arrangements with most Pacific Island states. These include police-to-police co-operation, defence capacity-building and joint military exercises. There are development programs designed to address drivers of fragility such as inequality and inclusive economic growth. There has been co-operation on climate science, sustainable fisheries and preserving maritime boundaries in the face of sea-level rise. Australia has goodwill in the region to draw on. There is a risk that Australia’s concerns about geopolitical change lead it to overstate differences with Pacific island countries. There will always be areas where views and interests align, and others where they do not. Australia needs to envisage Pacific island countries as a network of interaction, trade, exchange, communication and influence reaching across much of the Pacific Ocean. Strong relationships are not made up only of defence and security ties, and do not come into play only in situations of threat. They are the product of long-term, consistent and multifaceted engagement, genuine partnership with and respect for countries that are equally sovereign, and exchange that takes seriously all parties’ priorities, concerns and values. The opportunity exists for a rhetorical reset framing Australia as a generational partner for Pacific societies. Faced with a challenge to its profile and influence, Australia should pursue a long-term approach. The focus should be on economic integration, reciprocity and sustained commitment to generational progress. Australians should accept that Pacific island countries will engage with other countries, and work towards bridging the gaps in our defence, development and diplomatic relationships with the region.

Flag of Japan between flags of US and China

Japan’s policy amidst growing US-China rivalry

by Kristina Voda

AnnotationThe article is devoted to the analysis of Japan’s policy amidst growing competition between the United States and China in the Indo-Pacific region. It assesses the Japan’s place in US strategy to contain China in the economic and political spheres. Particular attention is paid to the events that took place in 2021, the first year of the Biden administration in the US.  The Biden administration, which came to the White House on January 20, 2021, immediately announced a course of rivalry with China. In his very first foreign policy speech, the 46th President of the United States called the PRC the most serious rival of the United States, declared his desire to rebuff "the growing ambitions of authoritarian China, challenging American leadership". The U.S. Interim National Security Strategy Guide, published in March 2021, called China “the only competitor with the potential to combine its economic, diplomatic, military, and technological might to mount a sustained challenge to a stable and open international system”. The Biden administration's course of confronting Beijing also included countering Chinese illegal trade practices, cybercrime, and countering Beijing's so-called coercive economic measures that undermine the competitive advantage of the American economy. At the same time, Joe Biden, unlike his predecessor D. Trump, who pursued a policy in the spirit of “America first”, promised to rely on allies and partners in the implementation of his international policy. The Interim Strategic National Security Guide of the United States called the American allies “the most important strategic resource”, allowing them to act as a united front against global and regional rivals, including China. The United States promised to reaffirm and strengthen its commitment to alliances in Europe and the Indo-Pacific region, and to encourage allies to develop their military and political capabilities to counter common current and future threats. Japan, the most important military and political ally of the United States in the Indo-Pacific region (ITR), supported Joe Biden's course of rivalry with China on a wide range of issues. At the same time, the growing competition between Washington and Beijing is challenging Tokyo's national interests, forcing it to revise the key parameters of its economic and foreign policy strategy and adapt it to changing international political conditions.Military-political sphereIn 2021, Japan began coordinating its PRC strategy with the new American administration. On March 16, Tokyo hosted the first meeting of the new heads of the US Foreign and Defense Departments — A. Blinken and L. Austin — with their Japanese counterparts, which took place in the 2+2 format. Following the meeting, the parties stated that China's activities in the political, economic, military and technological spheres pose a challenge to the Japan-US alliance and the entire world community when they do not comply with the existing international order. The ministers announced their determination to resist Beijing's actions if they put pressure on regional players or destabilize the situation, which undermines the "rules-based" international system. During Biden's first Japan-US summit in Washington on April 16, 2021, the parties expressed concern about China's behavior that violates international order, including the use of economic and other forms of coercion. In addition, J. Biden and Y. Suga spoke out against China's territorial claims in the South China Sea, and also expressed concern about the human rights situation in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. For the first time in 52 years (since 1969), the leaders of Japan and the United States mentioned the "Taiwan issue" in a joint statement: they declared the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and expressed concern about the current situation around Taiwan. A desire was declared to develop cooperation between Washington and Tokyo on the basis of universal values and common principles. The parties also stressed the need for deterrence to maintain peace and stability in the region. At the same time, J. Biden and Y. Suga noted that it is important to have a frank dialogue with Beijing, directly express their concerns and work with it on topics of interest. The United States remains Japan's most important military and political partner, guaranteeing the security of the Japanese state from outside attacks. According to official Japanese government documents, the most serious security threat to Japan is the lack of transparency in the increase in the combat capability of the Chinese military. In addition, China's attempts to change the status quo in the East China and South China Seas pose a threat to Japan. There is particular concern about China's activity around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which threatens Japan's sovereignty over the islands. In addition, the development of the DPRK's nuclear and missile programs is considered a security threat to Japan. Tokyo is concerned about the significant progress made by Pyongyang in the development of a new type of ballistic missile. On these most sensitive issues, Tokyo is seeking guarantees from Washington to ensure its security. The growing confrontation between the US and China in the international military-political sphere poses new challenges to the alliance between Japan and the US. In the 2010s - early 2020s. with the active assistance of the Japanese government, military cooperation between Tokyo and Washington has expanded markedly. The change in the interpretation of the Constitution by the government of S. Abe in 2013 allowed Japan to apply the right to collective self-defense in limited cases. The Japanese Self-Defense Forces gained the ability to come to the aid of their allies in joint operations outside the Japanese islands. As a result, the scope of the Japanese-American alliance has expanded virtually to the whole world. The creation in 2015 of the Coordinating Mechanism between the armed forces of the two countries is aimed at strengthening cooperation between Tokyo and Washington in the military sphere. It was used to monitor the situation on the Korean Peninsula during the escalation of tensions in 2017. In addition, Japan increased the volume of purchases of American weapons, including F-35 aircraft, SM3 ballistic missile interceptors, RQ-4 Global Hawk long-range unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, Osprey convertiplanes, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye AWACS aircraft, etc. Tokyo's more active involvement in the confrontation between Washington and Beijing is supported by some American political experts. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of publications substantiating the important role of Japan in the US strategy in the Indo-Pacific region. It is noted that during the years of D. Trump's presidency, the United States refused to participate in a number of global and regional multilateral initiatives, undermining its credibility as the leader of the liberal international order. At the same time, it was Japan that assumed the role of a conductor and defender of liberal values in the IPR. As S. Smith, senior fellow at the American Council on Foreign Affairs, notes, along with maintaining an unshakable commitment to an alliance with the United States, Japan has acquired a more prominent role in international coalitions in the ITR in recent years. This is evidenced by its participation in naval exercises with the United States, Australia, India, and others. Further involvement of Japan in the US-Chinese confrontation on the side of the United States will require Tokyo to build up its military potential and increase its defense budget, strengthen coordination between its three types of armed forces, between the armed forces of the United States and Japan, as well as the unification of their commands. Such changes in Japan's military sphere will require further modifications of its defense legislation, including a revision of the restrictions imposed by the anti-war Article 9 of the Constitution. Although part of the political elite, including members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and former Prime Ministers S. Abe and Y. Suga, advocates the need to revise the Constitution and further expand Japan's military capabilities, about half of the public still does not support this course and adheres to pacifist views. In the short term, radical changes in Japan are unlikely, which will impose restrictions on Japanese-American cooperation in the military sphere. As for relations between Japan and China, during the period of D. Trump's administration in the United States, there was limited convergence on economic and political issues between Tokyo and Beijing in 2017-2019. The visit of Prime Minister S. Abe to Beijing in 2018 gave an impetus to the expansion of economic interaction between the two largest Asian economies. China and Japan signed 52 agreements totaling about $18 billion, announced plans to cooperate in third countries in the field of infrastructure construction, agreed to cooperate in the field of innovation development and intellectual property protection, renewed a $30.4 billion currency swap agreement, expressed the need to jointly develop free trade regimes in the region. Tokyo and Beijing have taken steps towards each other in the field of regulating tension in the East China Sea. The parties reaffirmed their long-standing intention to turn the East China Sea into a "sea of peace, cooperation and friendship" and agreed to prevent the emergence of dangerous situations at sea and in the air. On December 28, 2021, Japan and China again announced their intention to open a “hot line” between military departments to monitor the situation in the East China Sea around the Senkaku Islands, the sovereignty over which is disputed by Beijing. In the military-political sphere, serious contradictions remain between Japan and the PRC, including the territorial dispute, the problem of historical memory, as well as competition for influence in the IPR. At the same time, Tokyo maintains channels of communication with Beijing and its own agenda of bilateral relations. According to R. Sahashi, a Tokyo University researcher, Japan's task in its relations with China since establishing diplomatic relations in the 1970s has been to involve China in the international political order through the development of bilateral economic relations while maintaining its alliance with the United States. Japan's response to the current intensification of confrontation between the United States and China has been to increase cooperation with the United States in the military-political sphere and in the field of economic security, as well as the development of interaction with countries that share views with Tokyo on a preferred international order while maintaining diplomatic relations with China. Japan's long-term interest lies in the creation in the IPR of certain institutions in the field of economy, politics and security, which should lead to the formation of an order based on universal values.Trade and economic sphereIn 2021, the policy of the Joe Biden administration in the trade and economic sphere in the Indo-Pacific region was in the process of formation. Many of D. Trump's measures, primarily in relation to China, have retained their effect. A number of new initiatives were proposed to restore the US position in the IPR, lost during the years of the previous administration. With respect to the PRC, Washington upheld the tariffs imposed by Trump on imports of Chinese products worth about $370 billion (on 75% of exports of Chinese manufacturers to the United States). In addition, sanctions remain against high-tech Chinese companies ZTE and Huawei. In response to US restrictive measures, China imposed 25% tariffs on $110 billion of US imports in 2018. The trade dispute between the United States and China, the active phase of which fell on 2018-2019, led to the signing by the parties on January 16, 2020 of the so-called first phase of the trade agreement. It assumed an increase in Beijing's purchases of American products in 2020-2021. by $200 billion compared to 2017. It also committed China to make progress in enforcing intellectual property rights, remove non-tariff barriers to agricultural imports, and liberalize its financial services sector. The Biden administration continued to insist that China fulfill the terms of the first phase of the bilateral agreement. In October 2021, the new US Trade Representative K. Tai announced her intention to continue consultations with the Chinese side on trade and economic issues, as well as to raise issues such as subsidizing by the PRC government of certain sectors of the economy and special measures to support state-owned enterprises, which Washington is considering in as Beijing's "non-market trading practices". The trade dispute between the United States and China has led to a slowdown in the global economy and world trade, a decline in business confidence and increased uncertainty about future developments. Japan's trade volume in 2019 also decreased by 5% compared to 2018. Japanese exports to China fell by 7%, imports decreased by 3%. China remains Japan's largest trading partner: China's share in Japanese trade in 2018-2019 was 22%, and at the end of 2020 it increased to 24%, while the share of the USA was at the level of 15%. The trade dispute between Washington and Beijing had a negative impact on the economic performance of Japanese multinational corporations (TNCs) with Chinese subsidiaries. Since the US imposed tariffs on Chinese products in 2018, there has been a decline in sales from Chinese affiliates of Japanese TNCs trading with North American countries. Declines in the value of shares on the exchange (Nikkei 225 Index) were recorded for Japanese TNCs, whose operations are related to trade between the US and China. The share price of TNCs, whose Chinese subsidiaries had a higher share of imports from Japan, fell most noticeably. This is because, as sales to the US fell, the volume and value of imports from Japan also fell, resulting in a decline in the share price. To avoid an increase in the negative effect of the trade war, some Japanese corporations were forced to transfer production. So, Mitsubishi Electric in 2018-2019 moved part of the production of semiconductors and equipment for customers from the United States to Japan. Other companies have increased the capacity of their plants in North America and Southeast Asia. Electric motor maker Nidec Corporation moved production to Mexico in October 2018, Ricoh moved printer production to Thailand, and Sharp moved some laptop production from China to Vietnam. Washington’s course to confront Beijing in the economic and technological spheres in 2021 was supplemented by an initiative aimed at reducing the dependence of the US economy on high-tech products made in China and reformatting existing supply chains with the possible exclusion of China from them. In February 2021, Washington announced its intention to encourage the transfer of production of critical products from China to the United States and allied countries, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, and India. At the same time, special attention in the United States is paid to the production of semiconductors, an industry that is one of the key drivers of global economic growth. The semiconductor shortage in 2021 exposed the vulnerability of existing supply chains and undermined the global production of cars, computers and electronics. On June 8, 2021, the U.S. Senate passed the Innovation and Competition Act, which provides $250 billion for the development of the semiconductor, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence industries. 52 billion of them is planned to be directed to expanding the production of semiconductors in the United States. The purpose of this bill is to increase the competitiveness of the United States in the technological competition with China, where as part of the "Made in China 2025" strategy, the amount of state support for semiconductor-producing companies is stated to be 1.4 trillion dollars. The Japanese government is also taking steps to reduce dependence on China. According to Japanese expert A. Furuse, Tokyo realized the need to diversify its supply chains as early as 2010 after the escalation of tensions around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea caused interruptions in the supply of rare earth metals to Japan from China. Today, when the whole world is facing supply disruptions, the importance of cooperation between allies and partners in high-tech industries is increasing. Partner countries will be able to reduce the risks of dependence on China, share the financial burden on research and development, and take their industrial cooperation to a new level. On June 4, 2021, the Government of Japan released the "Semiconductor and Digital Industries Strategy" covering activities in three sectors: semiconductors, digital infrastructure, and digital industry. It states that ensuring the security of production and supply of semiconductors is an issue directly related to economic security in the face of technological competition between the United States and China. To this end, Japan will promote joint development with advanced foreign manufacturers. Another document released by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on June 29, 2021 said that with the rivalry between the US and China intensifying, Japan should diversify its suppliers and cooperate with the US and other countries to protect supply chains. It also emphasizes the need to take measures to prevent the leakage of sensitive technologies from Japan. Another important issue is the prospects for the participation of the US and China in multilateral trade formats in the ITR. Now China's share of international trade in the region far exceeds that of the United States. On November 15, 2020, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed and entered into force on January 1, 2022 for ten countries (Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Japan, Laos, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam). In the absence of India, which pulled out of negotiations in early 2020, China is taking the lead in this world's largest free trade zone, covering 30% of the world's population. After the United States withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in 2017, the remaining 11 countries participating in the negotiations entered into a new agreement called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Japan, after the withdrawal of the United States, took the place of the leader of the association and thereby guaranteed itself participation in the formation of rules and norms for conducting trade and economic activities in the region. In September 2021, China applied to join the CPTPP. Although many are skeptical about the prospects of China's participation in the CPTPP, China's share in the trade of all its members already exceeds that of the United States. The accession of the United States to the CPTPP in the near future is also unlikely, primarily for domestic political reasons. Nevertheless, in 2021, the Biden administration made an attempt to return to the discussion of trade and economic issues in the IPR on a multilateral basis. Speaking at the East Asia Summit (EAS) on October 27, 2021, which was held online, Biden announced the initiative to create the Indo-Pacific economic framework. According to him, its activities will be aimed at facilitating trade procedures, setting standards for the digital economy and technologies, strengthening the sustainability of supply chains, decarbonization and development of clean energy, infrastructure development, improving labor standards, and so on. But this initiative, unlike multilateral free trade agreements, will not be binding, it does not include trade and investment liberalization goals, and it does not guarantee preferences in the attractive US market. These circumstances will reduce the value of the American proposal for the IPR countries in comparison with the already existing multilateral formats. Washington's unwillingness to participate in free trade agreements in the IPR reduces the involvement and influence of the United States in the rules and norms of trade and economic activity being developed here. In turn, Beijing, the leading trading partner of most regional economies, during the 2010s put in significant efforts in creating its own international institutions designed to strengthen the influence of the PRC on international economic relations and at the same time increase independence from external rules and norms. Under these conditions, Japan sees its task as the formation of a multifaceted trade and economic system with unified rules and norms in the ITR, which will be able to not only balance China's growing influence but also create a liberal economic order that both China and the United States will be forced to reckon with. Thus, Japan hopes that its multilateral trade policy will be able to limit the unilateral actions of Beijing and Washington and reduce the potential negative effects of the trade war between China and the United States on the national and global economy.

Taiwan Naional soldiers in parade

What’s at Stake in Upcoming Taiwan Election

by June Teufel Dreyer

BOTTOM LINE • Taiwan’s presidential election is scheduled for January 13, 2024. • A down-to-the-wire effort by two of the three opposition candidates to unite against front-runner William Lai Ching-te failed dramatically, while the third candidate made a grand last-minute exit. • Disarray among the opposition will not necessarily guarantee Lai’s election, with the latest polls showing him barely ahead of his two remaining challengers. • Both challengers, though averring their preference for a strong relationship with the United States, favor warmer relations with Beijing in a manner that may portend some degree of willingness to accept unification with China that would adversely impact US and Japanese security interests • Chinese efforts to influence the vote have included military intimidation, veiled threats of invasion, and disinformation. On Saturday, January 13, 2024, Taiwan will go to the polls to choose itsa next president and 113 seats in the country’s unicameral Legislative Yuan (LY). Current president Tsai Ing-wen is term-limited and at first four, now three, contenders are seeking to succeed her, making this the most contested election since 2000. What’s at Stake for the United States The United States is significantly involved in one war in the Middle East, another in Eastern Europe, and is hence at pains to avoid confrontation in Asia. It has sent two aircraft carrier groups and ammunition to support Israel as well as large quantities of weapons to the Ukrainian government, leaving concerns in both America and Taiwan about how much assistance it could give the country should Xi Jinping decide to attack. Given China’s avowed desire to annex the island by force if Taiwan’s citizens do not agree to unification amicably, and Beijing’s strong reaction to anything that it construes as moves to further legitimize Taiwan’s de facto independence, the Biden administration prefers a Taiwanese president who will avoid both actions that could prompt an attack and measures that would bring the island under Beijing’s control. More than democracy and human rights are at issue: Since Taiwan sits astride sea lanes that are vital for international commerce and security, ceding the country to China would enhance Beijing’s control of both. An estimated 40 percent of world trade passes through the South China Sea, which China has increasingly asserted its control over. Japan, a US treaty ally, has what is arguably an even greater stake in stability in the Taiwan Strait since a Taiwan under Chinese control would bring its territorial waters perilously close to Japan as well as potentially adversely impact the shipping that is so vital to its economy. China also contests control of areas of the East China Sea with Japan. Since Okinawa hosts the only US bases within 500 miles (the unrefueled combat radius of US fighters) from Taiwan, China might well strike those bases at the outset of a conflict. Japanese leaders have explicitly said that a Taiwan emergency is a Japanese emergency and therefore an emergency for the Japan-US alliance. The Dramatis Personae Lai Ching-te (English name William Lai) is Taiwan’s incumbent vice-president and the nominee of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Born in 1959 and the son of a coal miner, he is a medical doctor with expertise in spinal cord injuries, though he has dedicated his later career to politics. Regarded as a lackluster campaigner, he can however point to his extensive record in office as a legislator, then premier, and most recently as vice-president. Hou Yu-ih, born in 1957 and the son of pork sellers, represents the Kuomintang (KMT) or Chinese Nationalist Party. After graduating from the Central Police Agency and obtaining a doctoral degree in crime prevention and corrections, he had a long career in law enforcement before becoming deputy mayor and later mayor of New Taipei City. Hou says that his background in police work is excellent preparation for service as president. Ko Wen-je, born in 1959, is a medical doctor known for his expertise in organ transplants before going into politics. Ko successfully ran for mayor of Taipei as an independent, though with the endorsement of the DPP. In 2019, Ko founded the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) as a challenge to the KMT and DPP. Terry Gou (Chinese name Guo Tai-ming) was born in 1950. A late entry into the race and formerly a KMT member who twice sought and was twice refused the party’s endorsement for nominee, he then announced he would run as an independent backed by the $7 billion fortune he made as founder of Hon Hai Precision Industries. Hon Hai, known abroad as Foxconn, is the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronics. His parents, from Shanxi, fled to Taiwan in 1949, with his policeman father having fought for the KMT during the war. Gou believes that his extensive business experience makes him ideally suited for the presidency. Where They Stand All candidates face the dilemma of having to solicit the support of voters who overwhelmingly reject unification with China while not antagonizing China with its oft-repeated vow to achieve the “sacred task” of unification by whatever means. A poll released in late November showed almost no support for this: only 0.7 percent of respondents replied that they supported independence as soon as possible with 11.5 percent advocating maintaining the status quo while working toward unification. By contrast, 35.8 percent supported maintaining the status quo while working toward independence and 44.3 percent favored forever maintaining the status quo. On other issues, as do politicians worldwide, they must be wary of making promises they will find difficult to deliver on if elected. Lai, who has previously described himself as an advocate of Taiwanese independence, is careful to qualify the statement by adding that, since Taiwan is already an independent sovereign state known as the Republic of China, there is no need for a declaration of independence. He has rejected the so-called 1992 Consensus and pledged to continue Tsai Ing-wen’s non-confrontational policies. The 1992 Consensus refers to the outcome of a meeting in Singapore between the allegedly unofficial representatives of the Chinese Communist Party and the KMT, which then governed in the name of the Republic of China. Members of the opposition party objected. The Consensus, a term that did not exist until 2000, eight years later, holds that each side agreed that there is but one China and that Taiwan is part of China, but that each side has its own understanding of what China is: for the CCP, it is the People’s Republic of China; for the KMT, it is the Republic of China. KMT supporters continue to accept the latter definition, while the opposition DPP reject it, arguing that Taiwan is a sovereign state independent of the PRC. In 2010, newly elected president Tsai Ing-wen offered a concession in that she accepted the historical fact of the conference, but Beijing immediately rejected it as “an incomplete test paper.” The only one of the four candidates to support gay marriage, which has been legal in Taiwan since 2019, Lai wore a rainbow-colored scarf and spoke at a large parade in October to celebrate the law, declaring that equal marriage was not the end but the starting point for diversity. None of the other three presidential candidates attended, although the KMT’s youth wing did, with its members shouting that their party also supported equality as they passed by Lai. Hou Yu-ih accepts the 1992 Consensus, though adds that he objects to both a formal declaration of Taiwan’s independence and China’s offer to rule the country under Beijing’s interpretation of the one-country, two-systems formula. In a Foreign Affairs article that was obviously aimed at a US audience, Hou stressed the importance of urging both sides of the Taiwan Strait to jointly promote democracy, human rights, and mutual trust. He accepts, however, the need for deterrence against invasion and that Taiwan must deepen collaboration with the United States in areas such as intelligence sharing and regular joint training exercises. Hou has vowed to defend the Republic of China if it were attacked. It is significant that he did not use the word Taiwan, thereby implicitly endorsing his party’s position on the One China policy. On healthcare, Hou has promised to raise spending levels on national health insurance to 8 percent from its current 6.5 percent. Observers were puzzled at his choosing to emphasize this policy against two rivals who are medical doctors. Lai immediately countered that rather than announce a spending target, Hou should explain specifically what areas should be targeted for improvement and then suggested several that he, Lai, would pursue. Ko Wen-je emphasizes his pragmatism and rationality. On cross-strait relations, he advocates a middle-of-the-road approach that is neither anti-China nor overly pro-China. Ko has called for regular security talks among senior officials from Japan, Taiwan, and the United States regarding China’s intimidation of Taiwan. He argues that cutting off communication with China increases the risk of war and has expressed willingness to sign economic agreements with Beijing while also advocating that Taiwan follow the United States in de-risking. Agreements would be reviewed and referred to the Legislative Yuan for ratification—a backhanded reference to former president Ma Ying-jeou’s effort to push through a trade agreement with China that aroused a massive protest and closed down the Legislative Yuan for weeks. Ko has called on China to propose a new framework for engagement with Taiwan that explains what Beijing has to offer, telling inquisitive foreign reporters that “it’s their obligation [to do so] not mine” and adding that Beijing must also define exactly what it means by One China, whether it be political or economic. While economic cooperation with China is negotiable, he claims that politically there is “nothing we can do,” though he has said elsewhere that confrontation can be eased through dialogue and cultural, sports, and economic exchanges. Ko has also proposed turning the small offshore island of Jinmen, also known as Kinmen, into an experimental zone for peace between Taiwan and China. Critics immediately pointed out that, apart from being unconstitutional, Ko has not explained whether he would countenance suspending Jinmen’s elections, regulating its residents’ freedom of speech due to Beijing’s censorship and insistence on “internet sovereignty,” or imposing social controls on them to conform with Chinese practice. Terry Gou, whose Foxconn has over a million employees in its factories in China, has denounced the Taiwan independence movement while calling for de-escalating Sino-American tensions. He accepts the 1992 Consensus and advocates positioning Taiwan as equidistant from both the United States and China. As of now, it is “like prey on a tightrope”: If either America or China increases tensions even a little bit, Taiwan “will die a horrible death.” Critics believe that Foxconn’s heavy presence in China would make him vulnerable to pressures from Beijing; Gou responded that he has not managed the company’s operations since 2019 and in fact resigned from Foxconn’s board of directors in September 2023. Denying that he has ever been controlled by China, Gou vowed to reply “yes, do it!” if Beijing threatens Foxconn’s assets. As if to test his mettle, two months later, China announced an investigation into the tax and land use of Foxconn subsidiaries in several provinces, without supplying details. Foxconn management replied that it would “actively comply” with the investigators. Gou is an avowed opponent of gay marriage. Now no longer formally a candidate, he has vowed to keep advocating for these policy views. Taiwan does not possess indigenous fuels, so the energy issue is highly controversial. Opponents of nuclear energy argue that a Fukushima-type meltdown would devastate the much smaller and similarly earthquake-prone island. Proponents point out that without nuclear power, Taiwan would become still more vulnerable if it completely depended on imports to keep its heavily trade-dependent economy healthy. Due to a 2016 government decision to phase out nuclear power by 2025, usage has declined from over 20 percent to about 9 percent at present. Most citizens voted in 2021 to reject finishing a partially built plant whose completion has been suspended for three decades. Only Lai has vowed to make Taiwan a nuclear-free country by 2025, although he has not ruled out retaining some nuclear capability in case of emergencies like a Chinese invasion or blockade. All three other candidates claim that the nuclear-free homeland policy has failed, with Hou explicitly saying that he would revive nuclear power, including restarting two already decommissioned units, extending the operational period of a third, and evaluating whether to revive an abandoned fourth nuclear power plant. While warning of power shortages, no candidate has addressed the questions of safety or of finding a long-term solution for storing nuclear waste. Who’s Ahead? Taiwan, perhaps one of the most extensively polled countries in the world, has so many organizations collecting data that the Taiwan News regularly reports a poll of polls. Lai has been the consistent front-runner. Except for briefly exceeding 40 percent after a stopover trip to the United States en route to Paraguay, he until recently polled in the mid-thirties, with Ko and Hou in the mid-to-high twenties and Guo in the low teens. But Lai’s lead has been eroding. More concerning to the DPP, at the end of October Ko and KMT head Eric Chu reached an uneasy agreement—notably, Hou was not present— to share candidates in some constituencies in order to get a majority in the Legislative Yuan. If this succeeds and Lai is elected, the coalition could block Lai’s initiatives, leading to gridlock, as indeed happened during Chen Shui-bian’s presidency. It would also encourage Beijing to court them, as it has done during previous DPP administrations. Since the DPP has been in power for eight years, it has a track record that its opposition and non-committed voters can criticize. Rural citizens interviewed by a Canadian researcher believe that the party has forgotten about them while urbanites complain about inflation and lack of affordable housing and point out that wages have remained stagnant despite healthy growth rates. The youth vote, which had previously been a mainstay of DPP strength, has shown signs of shifting to the TPP. Many, including supporters of the party, believe that a social justice program is badly needed. They accuse the DPP of positioning itself as a progressive party but not behaving like one, urging it to enact policies that meaningfully tax the rich and invest the money in green technology, infrastructure, and innovation. The opposition has said that a DPP victory would mean war with China. Chinese Efforts to Influence the Election Beijing’s least favorite candidate is surely Lai. Rather than overtly interfere, a strategy that backfired badly in the 1996 election, it has tried a mixture of sticks and carrots. Sticks include Chinese fighter jets so regularly crossing the median line in the Taiwan Strait that a new normal now exists, ominous warnings from high military figures, and covert attempts such as disinformation. Carrots include hosting youth delegations to visit China, and a plan to make Fujian province a zone for integrated development with Taiwan, including encouraging Taiwanese firms to list on Chinese stock exchanges and supporting innovative ways of cross-strait capital cooperation. Entry and exit visas for “Taiwan compatriots” are being eased. While such initiatives are above board, some others are not. In late October, Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau seized $354.6 million in illegal remittances to candidates regarded as sympathetic to China. Among the conduits were businesspeople, contributions to temple charity events, dummy accounts through unregistered banks, and cryptocurrency. It is difficult to tell how successful these tactics are, with anecdotal evidence indicating that while some people are intimidated by China’s threats, others respond negatively. Taiwanese are well aware of the fate of Hong Kong, where the party-state ruthlessly quashed civil liberties in contravention of the promises it was treaty-bound to honor and often used as a cautionary tale to those few who view unification more favorably. Unexpected Last-Minute Developments At the meeting to discuss cooperation on fielding candidates for the Legislative Yuan, Ko and Hou also discussed having one of them agree to become vice-president while the other would be the presidential nominee. Assuming—a big if—that most of the supporters of one would agree to vote with supporters of the other, they would comfortably beat Lai. The possibility of an alliance at the top was always risky: In addition to each man having a healthy ego that would make subordinating himself to the other difficult, Ko was on record as saying that the things he hates most are “mosquitoes, cockroaches and the KMT.” He founded the TPP as a counterweight to both KMT and DPP, attracting many supporters, particularly among the young, who were disenchanted with the two. While some of the young voters might accept an alliance, others would likely feel betrayed. Whether Ko or Hou would get top billing, they pledged to abide by the opinion polls on who was the stronger. After much discussion, the two settled on accepting six of the nine major polls, but then disagreed on who was ahead based on differing interpretations of the margins of error. Former president Ma Ying-jeou then stepped in to mediate, summoning Ko and Hou to his office on November 24, the deadline for filing for the election. Only Hou appeared, waiting several hours fruitlessly. Ko later agreed to meet at a hotel and even then arrived late as a gaggle of media waited impatiently outside. The result was a dramatic failure with the candidates sniping at each other live on the country’s television networks: They will run separately. The event even upstaged Terry Gou’s also dramatic departure wherein the typically flamboyant Gou announced that although he “might be forgotten by the people,” he had chosen to sacrifice himself for the greater good, showing his “utmost dedication to his homeland.” With barely five weeks before the election, analysts have scrutinized the newly announced vice-presidential picks of the remaining three candidates. Lai has chosen Hsiao Bi-khim, the highly regarded woman who has served as Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Washington for the past several years. But whether and by how much the choice will increase Lai’s popularity remains to be seen. Beijing has denounced Hsiao as a “diehard secessionist” and says the decision could “mean war for Taiwan,” which could scare some voters. Asked about this at a television interview soon after her selection, Hsiao responded carefully, saying that all Taiwanese reject war and that any candidate “must approach [relations with China] with utmost responsibility.” Hou’s choice for vice-president, the avowed pro-unificationist media executive Jaw Shaw-kong, also has negatives as well as positives. Presumably chosen to appeal to the KMT’s conservative base, Jaw is apt to alienate more moderate KMT members and voters who fear unification. His more assertive personality and markedly different view of unification raise the possibility of friction between him and Hou. Kou’s vice-presidential pick, Cynthia Wu, is likewise problematic. With very little political experience, she has been an executive of a family-founded major life insurance company that has been fined for speculation and questionable land deals. This undercuts the TPP’s claim to be the party that represents the interests of the young and underprivileged. Meanwhile, polls show Lai’s lead over Hou shrinking to about one point, with Ko less than four points behind Hou. At this point, the election is too close to call. Expect the Unexpected? Should it have to live with Lai, Beijing’s least bad scenario would be a divided Legislative Yuan, which would enable it to work with the opposition, as it also has done with previous DPP-led administrations. Assuming, as is likely, that Lai can be trusted to keep his promise to continue his predecessor’s nonconfrontational policies, he is certainly Washington’s preferred candidate. But, as evidenced by the events of the past few weeks, Taiwan’s politics are full of surprises: Neither the United States nor China can be sure that the election will go in its preferred direction. Dealing with democracies is inherently uncertain, for both autocracies and other democratic countries.

Defense & Security
Satellite in the space with the North Korean flag

North Korea’s Spy Satellite Launch Is One Giant (and Dangerous) Question Mark

by Bruce Klingner

Pyongyang successfully launched its first military reconnaissance satellite after two previous failures. North Korea has developed a robust missile arsenal but, until now, lacked a remote reconnaissance capability to identify, track, and attack U.S., South Korean, and Japanese military targets. The satellite’s capabilities, as well as whether it incorporated Russian technology, remain unknown. North Korea announced the satellite surveilled U.S. military bases in Guam and vowed to launch several additional reconnaissance satellites “in a short span of time.” South Korea responded by suspending portions of an inter-Korean military agreement meant to prevent military clashes along the DMZ, raising tensions on the peninsula even further. On November 21, Pyongyang conducted its third attempt at launching its Malligyong-1 military reconnaissance satellite onboard a Chollima-1 rocket. Previous launches in August 2023 failed to achieve orbit, but clearly, North Korea learned some valuable lessons. The South Korean navy salvaged some of the rocket and satellite debris from the ocean floor, enabling technical analysis, though the results have not been disclosed. Kim Jong-un declared the regime’s intention to develop a military reconnaissance satellite in his January 2021 directive to the regime’s defense industry. Other delineated military projects included a solid-fuel ICBM, tactical nuclear warheads, hypersonic gliding flight warheads, and a nuclear-powered submarine. >>> North Korea and Russia: How Far Could Their Partnership Go? North Korea reported an “important final-stage test” in December 2022 involving a mock satellite and subsequently released two poor-quality images of the Korean Peninsula. Experts denigrated the grainy, low-resolution images as being of far worse capability than commercially available imagery. Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korea’s leader, responded angrily that the test was to show the feasibility of the system rather than the eventual quality of the imagery. In April 2023, Kim underscored the importance of having “several reconnaissance satellites on different orbits [for] securing real-time information about the hostile forces’ military scenario and moves.” Ironically, North Korea’s most recent satellite launch occurred the same day the regime criticized South Korea and the United States for “recklessly” militarizing space, describing Seoul’s upcoming launch of its own reconnaissance satellite as an “extremely dangerous military provocation.” It is possible that Russia provided technology to improve North Korea’s satellite launch capabilities in return for Pyongyang’s shipments of massive amounts of artillery ammunition to Moscow. During Kim’s September 2023 trip to Vladivostok, President Vladimir Putin hinted at providing military and technological support to North Korea. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Russia was providing “technology and support” for North Korea’s military programs, though without elaborating on details. A South Korean military official told reporters that an 80-ton liquid fuel engine was transferred from Russia to North Korea even before the September summit. Russian engineers traveled to North Korea after the summit. More likely, however, North Korea’s long-planned launch occurred too quickly after the Kim-Putin summit to have incorporated new Russian technology. Pyongyang announced it had developed the satellite and launcher “by its own efforts and technologies.” Pyongyang has frequently failed initial tests of new missile systems before eventually succeeding. South Korea responded to the launch by partially suspending the 2018 Comprehensive Military Agreement, which then-President Moon Jae-in hailed as a major step in improving relations with Pyongyang. The accord established mutual risk reduction and confidence-building measures to reduce the potential for inadvertent military escalation. However, the Yoon Suk Yeol administration declared that North Korea repeatedly violated the agreement and criticized provisions of the deal, which curtailed allied reconnaissance and military training activities. The Yoon administration announced it would suspend Article 1, Clause 3 of the agreement and restore airborne reconnaissance operations along the DMZ. >>> Next-Generation Interceptor Needed in Greater Quantities to Stay Ahead of the North Korean Missile Threat Any North Korean launch using “ballistic missile technology” is a violation of numerous U.N. resolutions, regardless of whether it is depicted as a civilian space launch. While China and Russia will veto approval of any new U.N. resolutions, the United States should step up its enforcement of U.S. and U.N. sanctions and work systematically with the international community to target North Korean violators, as well as entities in Russia, China, and elsewhere that facilitate Pyongyang’s transgressions. The U.S. should also counter the growing North Korean military threat by strengthening security cooperation with allies South Korea and Japan, while encouraging these two allies to improve their bilateral cooperation. Last year, the U.S. resumed large-scale military exercises with South Korea and restarted rotational deployments of strategic assets, both after a four-year hiatus. Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo also restarted trilateral military exercises. These measures have augmented allied deterrence and defense capabilities. The three nations should consider a return to pre-2018 training levels as a minimum requirement for future training schedules. Given the escalating growth in North Korean nuclear and missile forces, Washington should confer with Seoul and Tokyo on a training regimen that includes all military services and goes beyond ballistic missile defense and anti-submarine exercises to include air and ground forces. The historic trilateral Camp David Summit in August paved the way for greater American-led military, economic, and technological cooperation against common security threats in the Indo-Pacific. The three leaders, however, will need to operationalize the extensive security agreements they reached as well as commit greater resources to offset advancing Chinese and North Korean military capabilities represented by this launch. This piece originally appeared in The National Interest