Biden’s Asia Tour Strengthens Alliances Amid China’s Rising Influence

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President Joe Biden’s recent tour of India and Vietnam marked a significant attempt to strengthen relationships in the Asia region and position the United States as a trustworthy ally amidst growing international doubts about China’s influence in the developing world. Biden used his journey to argue the point that the U.S. should be viewed as a dependable partner, whereas China’s agenda might not be crystal clear. However, he duly noted that his plans did not aim at triggering another Cold War with China.

In his conversation with General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Biden emphasized the massive potential for strengthening relationships and achieving mutual cooperation, hailing hopes for an improved future marked by peace, security, and prosperity. Taking the instance of supply chains and climate change, he emphasized the need for alliances that foster global stability, remarking on the potential for a greater era of cooperation.

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Biden’s journey, though filled with diplomacy and promising indications, also brought to light the underlying fractures and polarizing circumstances that currently govern world politics. Both at the G20 summit in Delhi and in his visit to Hanoi, these fault lines became evident. As much as leaders managed to unite on a statement addressing climate change and economic growth, they faltered when it came to explicitly criticizing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

A pronounced breakthrough of the summit, however, was the unanimous decision to oppose any threat or use of force for territorial acquisition – a clarity not derived without multiple drafting sessions and hundreds of hours of meetings. This subtle yet significant diplomatic victory for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who hosted the summit, revealed perhaps a slightly softened stance from the United States and its western allies towards the event.

Parallelly, the whirlwind trip was also used by Biden to propose an alternative to China’s Belt and Road initiative. It included announcements of new infrastructure developments and investments aimed to convince the developing world about America’s sustained commitment and offering a more rewarding partnership compared to China. A plan to connect India, the Middle East, and Europe via a new economic corridor was unveiled.

However, the absence of eminent leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping was voiced as a significant disappointment. Yet, it provided an occasion for Biden to strengthen ties with the attending nations and leverage the strength of America’s economy in establishing and solidifying partnerships.

Further to that, his journey was also used to pull the Asian neighbors closer to the US, engage in detailed and strategic discussions, and discuss the establishment of a “comprehensive strategic partnership”. More importantly, Biden’s visit was determinant in fostering Vietnam’s shift towards the US, considering his effort in assisting the country in veering away from Russia’s arm supplies.

While Vietnam continues to maintain a pleasant rapport with China, its burgeoning trade relations with the US and the latter’s efforts to diversify supply chains out of China present an intriguing scenario. Biden’s trip thus carries high strategic and historical significance. However, despite the diplomatic and economic advancements, the persistent strains and disagreements among the international alliances and global powers continue to muddy the geopolitical landscape.