(TibetanReview.net, Oct30’22) – Terming China as its most consequential strategic competitor for the coming decades, the United States has, in its national defence strategy, committed itself to deepening major defence partnership with India to enhance the ability to deter their increasingly militarizing common rival both at land and sea. It has also said that the US will support allies and partners against acute forms of “grey zone coercion” by China, including at the disputed occupied Tibet border with India.
The US national defence strategy 2022 was released by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J Austin on Oct 27, days after the Joe Biden administration released its national security strategy which declared that its top priority was to outcompete China and constrain Russia.
It was in his introductory note to the strategy that Austin said China remained the US’s “most consequential strategic competitor” for the coming decades.
“I have reached this conclusion based on the PRC’s increasingly coercive actions to reshape the Indo-Pacific region and the international system to fit its authoritarian preferences, alongside a keen awareness of the PRC’s clearly stated intentions and the rapid modernization and expansion of its military,” the hindustantimes.com Oct 28 quoted Austin as having said.
He has noted that the national defence strategy directed the Department of Defense to “act urgently” to “sustain and strengthen” American deterrence against China, which has been identified as the pacing challenge for the department.
The strategy also speaks of working to reinforce “robust deterrence” against Russia, while “mitigating and protecting against threats from North Korea, Iran, violent extremist organizations and trans-boundary challenges such as climate change”.
In a section on the security environment, the strategy says that China is seeking to undermine US alliances and partnerships in the region and leverage its growing capabilities to “coerce neighbours and threaten their interests”. It terms China’s “increasingly provocative rhetoric and coercive activity” towards Taiwan as destabilising, and risking miscalculation.
“This is a part of a broader pattern of destabilizing and coercive PRC behaviour that stretches across the East China Sea, South China Sea and the Line of Actual Control”, the last being a nod to China’s aggression at the border with India.
The strategy also speaks of modernizing US alliance with Japan and strengthening “combined capabilities by aligning strategic planning and priorities in a more integrated manner”. Washington will also deepen alliance with Australia with “investments in posture, interoperability and expansion of multilateral cooperation” and foster advanced tech cooperation through AUKUS and Quad.
It is in this section that the strategy speaks of India. “The Department will advance our Major Defense Partnership with India to enhance its ability to deter PRC aggression and ensure free and open access to the Indian Ocean region.”
It then goes on to commit support for Taiwan’s “asymmetric self-defense”, work with South Korea to improve its defence capability, promote the role of ASEAN in addressing regional security challenges, and “ensure power projection in a contested environment”.