Secretary of State Antony Blinken is on a tour of the Asia Pacific where he is reassuring regional allies that the US is still committed to its Asia “pivot” despite the recent focus on Russia and Ukraine.
“There are a few other things going on in the world right now, some of you may have noticed. We have a bit of a challenge with Ukraine and Russian aggression. We’re working 24/7 on that,” Blinken said Thursday in Australia.
“But we know, the president knows and each of you knows this better than anyone else, that so much of this century is going to be shaped by what happens here in the Indo-Pacific region,” he added.
Early on in Biden’s presidency, officials made it clear that the foreign policy priority was meant to be on countering China and increasing the US footprint in the region. As part of this strategy, the US working to boost military cooperation in the region, and signed the new AUKUS military pact with the UK and Australia.
The Biden administration has also been working to strengthen the Quad, an informal alliance that consists of the US, India, Australia, and Japan. Blinken is meeting with officials from the other Quad countries in Melbourne on Friday.
Ahead of the meeting, Blinken insisted the Quad is not primarily meant to counter China. “This is not about standing against anyone in particular,” he said. “It is about standing up for a rules-based order, making sure that we uphold those rules and principles if they’re being challenged.”
But it’s clear that the Quad is about China, and the so-called “rules-based order” is jargon for the US-dominated world order that Washington thinks Beijing is threatening.
After Australia, Blinken is due to visit Fiji, where he plans to reassure Pacific island leaders that the US is committed to the region.