Three plus three plus...


According to the White House and Western media, US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Philippine leader Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will gather in Washington on April 11. It is planned to hold the first ever trilateral summit in this format.

The official goal of the meeting is stated to expand trilateral cooperation in the economy, new technologies, and security. However, given the fact that the closest US allies in the Asia-Pacific region have been invited on the carpet, it is very likely to assume that it is a matter of forging another alliance to primarily contain China. Especially since White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in announcing the event that it would be a good opportunity to emphasize «the growing economic relationship between the countries, a proud and strong commitment to shared democratic values, and a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific». No one, of course, will talk about the anti-Chinese orientation of this association, hypocritically assuring Beijing of peaceful purposes, but in fact the true goals are obvious.

Japan has recently taken a place in the mainstream of Washington’s policy. This applies to both the anti-Russian and anti-China directions. Tokyo now sees itself as an unsinkable carrier of the United States in the struggle for Taiwan. Suffice it to recall President Biden’s statement — to defend Taiwan «to the last Taiwanese» — which was made precisely in Tokyo. Japan’s ruling circles mistakenly believe that Russia’s successes on the Ukrainian front will lead to a «Chinese attack on Taiwan». Fumio Kishida has been explicit that the Ukrainian drama could be repeated in the near future in East Asia.

The Philippines, on the other hand, with a pause during President Duterte’s more independent policies, is once again dutifully returning to the US redoubts lined up against the PRC. President Marcos, having barely come to power, gave the Americans access to four more military bases in the Philippines. This is not counting the five military bases where the Yankees had previously been operating. As a reciprocal gesture, Washington promised to provide Manila with equipment for coastal patrols, to increase the scale of joint maneuvers in the South China Sea. And it also honored the Philippine president with an invitation to make an official visit to the U.S. — it took place last May.

To attract even more closely into their orbit, the Americans skillfully used the Philippine-Chinese controversy over the disputed waters of the South China Sea, which escalated last year. In the midst of these battles, on March 5 this year, the State Department issued a sharp anti-Chinese statement condemning the numerous «obstacles created by the PRC to Philippine vessels», accusing Beijing of actions that «demonstrate disregard for the security, livelihood of Filipinos and international law». On March 19, U.S. Secretary of State Blinken personally assured his Philippine vis-a-vis Enrique Manalo of America’s continued commitment to ensuring security in the Philippines.

But the Americans are also actively using economic incentives to put allies on the hook. A couple of weeks ago, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo visited the Philippines and announced plans to invest more than $1 billion in the country’s technology sector and to double the number of factories there to assemble, test and package microchips. And this area, as we remember, is the battlefield for leadership between the US and China. The US is imposing sanctions against Chinese companies working in microelectronics, while China is increasing its efforts to create its own self-sufficient microchip industry.

Apparently, the sympathy of the Philippine authorities for the American ally has grown so strong that Washington has decided to use the moment to create another alliance. By the way, at the end of last year there was no word about it, and the visit of the Japanese Prime Minister was already scheduled for April 10. And now they have decided to add to it the arrival of the President of the Philippines to kill two birds with one stone.

In this connection, it is worth noting the success of the United States in consolidating its allied forces in the region. On an anti-Russian, anti-Chinese and anti-North Korean basis, even the longtime antagonists — Tokyo and Seoul — have been reconciled. This happened after Trump’s departure, when President Yun Seok-yeol took power in South Korea in May 2022. With its participation, the U.S. cemented this trinity symbiosis, which was solidified at the Camp David summit last August. There, it was explicitly stated that the three allies intend to deepen defense cooperation and jointly deter the DPRK, Russia and China.

If everything is more or less clear with these countries, the struggle for influence over small states in the Pacific continues. It escalated, as we remember, in the spring of 2022, when the Solomon Islands, which in 2019 refused to diplomatically recognize Taipei for the sake of cooperation with Beijing, signed a security agreement with China. As the Western media immediately reported, Chinese warships allegedly received the right to base themselves on the islands, located just 2,000 kilometers from the coast of Australia. Tensions were high not only on the fifth continent, but also across the ocean, believing that a Chinese military base was about to appear in the Pacific Ocean, although both China and the Solomon Islands categorically rejected such plans.

This story has become a driver for increased U.S. and Australian efforts in the region. The main goal is again to contain China and prevent it from expanding its influence. Last year, Washington held the first-ever U.S.-Pacific summit, following which the U.S. announced the allocation of $810 million in aid to its new allies over the next decade. Around the same time, a new U.S. strategy for the region and a plan to help small Pacific Islands to combat climate change, maritime security and protect the region from overfishing was released. It included the passage, «The Indo-Pacific faces increasing challenges, particularly from the PRC».

In addition, last year the U.S. opened embassies in the Solomon Islands and Tonga, as well as announced the establishment of a diplomatic mission in Vanuatu and a regional USAID mission in Fiji. Other U.S. allies have also joined the struggle for influence in the Pacific: Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Last year, these countries created the Partners in the Blue Pacific group, with Japan’s participation, to strengthen engagement in the region.

The Chinese, of course, see this and are not sitting idly by. Earlier this year, the Republic of Nauru (a state in the Western Pacific) broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established them with the People’s Republic of China, recognizing the principle of «one China». The sharp normalization of relations between China and Australia at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, based on Canberra’s economic interest, has also had a significant impact on the situation in the region. This will to some extent cool the ardor of the Australians in their containment of China through the AUKUS (Australia-US-UK) alliance. Although recently it became known that Canada and Japan may join this alliance by the end of this year. It is about cooperation in the field of military technologies: artificial intelligence, quantum computing and communications, cybersecurity, underwater technology and hypersonics. Washington is rushing to do so amid fears of Trump’s arrival in the White House, which could reverse this policy.

South Korea and New Zealand are also showing interest in AUKUS. There is still talk of Japan’s imminent, though not full-scale, accession to it, which will bring its considerable technological potential there, including in the field of hypersonics.

In short, the tactic of consolidation of threes, which can be tentatively called «three plus three plus three equals an alliance» is bearing fruit. Apparently, the U.S. is working to create a version of the Asia-Pacific NATO in the region and strap it to the European one. That in turn leads to increased interaction between China, Russia and the DPRK.

Chinese diplomacy believes that the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy is actually a political tool to contain China and is dangerous to the world. Beijing opposes it with a policy of peaceful development and mutually beneficial cooperation with all countries. China rejects the bloc policy, insisting on peaceful coexistence with all states, regardless of their political orientation. But depending on the behavior of opponents, there may be variations.

And we know for sure that it is virtually impossible to lead Washington and its allies astray.