After Afghan chaos, Kamala Harris should show US reliability to Asia

“What has occurred in Afghanistan has been fairly irritating and upsetting for lots of nations,” mentioned Yun Solar, co-director of the East Asia Program on the Stimson Centre assume tank. “The priority is at some point when the USA determines you might be now not as vital, they will simply pack up and depart and there may be nothing you are able to do about it.”

“And naturally there’s China attempting to capitalise on that narrative.”

US plane carriers the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Nimitz on patrol within the South China Sea final 12 months. Credit score:AP

Vietnam has been a vocal opponent of China’s territorial claims within the South China Sea and Singapore shares considerations about Beijing’s more and more assertive behaviour within the area.

They and different south-east Asian nations have welcomed the American army presence there given China’s militarisation of the disputed maritime hall, and its huge coast guard and fishing fleet.

The US Navy has maintained a gentle sample of freedom-of-navigation operations within the South China Sea and close to Taiwan, however these seem to have carried out little to discourage Beijing.


The senior administration official mentioned Washington was assured the USA’ Indo-Pacific allies noticed it as a “steadfast companion” and Harris would emphasise that on her journey.

The official mentioned south-east Asia and the Indo-Pacific had been priorities for the Biden administration and “that hasn’t modified with Afghanistan”.

“There’s a distinction between guaranteeing open sea lanes in Asia, which is a precedence for the USA, and the continued involvement in a foreign country’s civil battle,” he mentioned.

She’s scheduled to satisfy with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday and participate in a gathering on provide chain resilience. In Hanoi, she is going to launch the south-east Asia regional workplace of the US Centres for Illness Management and Prevention.

Among the many prime priorities for each side is filling the financial void left by the Trump administration’s withdrawal of the commerce settlement now known as the Complete and Progressive Settlement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, CPTPP, which incorporates 4 south-east Asian nations. Underneath Biden, the US is discussing proposals for a digital commerce deal masking Indo-Pacific economies as a potential avenue to verify China’s affect.

On the identical time, Harris would proceed to work on points tied to Afghanistan throughout her journey, the official mentioned including: “We will do multiple factor at a time.”

Some consultants level to a silver lining from the withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying it might allow Washington to unlock assets from a counter-terrorism mission and focus extra on countering Beijing.


“The shift to deterring and getting ready for a battle with a near-peer competitor will likely be accelerated because the counter-terrorism mindset recedes,” mentioned Bonnie Glaser of the German Marshall Fund of the USA, referring to China.

Others warn that the chaos in Kabul might no less than delay that shift.

Reuters, Bloomberg

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