The Fourth Frontier

A flurry of diplomatic activity has overtaken Washington, as it seeks to firm up its alliances not in the three active theatres of war – Middle East, Ukraine, and Sahel Africa – but rather in its fourth and most crucial theatre yet – the Pacific with China as the ever-strengthening adversary.

A week after US President Joe Biden called his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to “check-in”, the reason behind that call has become ap­parent. The United States, Australia, Japan, and the Philippines will hold joint naval and air drills in the disputed South China Sea with the stated objective of countering Chinese influence in the region. As the exercises conclude, US President Joe Biden is due to hold the first trilateral summit with the leaders of the Philippines and Japan in a bid to formalize their military alliances. Ensuring Chinese warships give this naval exercise a wide berth is necessary to avoid conflict.

It shouldn’t surprise us that in the middle of a global upheav­al over the US-sponsored Israeli genocide, Biden would choose to look westwards. Despite conflicts with its eternal enemy, Russia, China remains the biggest threat. China’s rapidly modernising mili­tary force is on par with the United States in many regards, and even leads it in key emerging technologies – such as hypersonic missiles and swarm drone warfare. The entire US war machine is primed solely at countering China, with the R&D focus shifting from coun­ter-insurgency technology to peer-level adversary combat. The US is not developing armoured personnel vehicles designed to with­stand IEDs anymore – it is developing 6th-generation fighter jets and drones that can cover the massive distances of the Pacific.

It is telling, that when Russia invaded Ukraine and Israel began its war of extermination in Gaza, the United States sent its naval carrier groups to Chinese water as deterrence first, before assisting its allies. This region is poised for a major conflict. From South Korea, through Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, to the Philippines and Australia – the US has surrounded China with military bases. China, watching US power and prestige decline globally, stands firm on the One China policy, and continues to assert ownership of Taiwan and the South China Sea.

What will set of this fourth frontier in the United States struggle to maintain its unipolar empire remains to be seen.

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