As noted earlier, the Biden Administration is seeking to link foreign policy with domestic policy. Specifically, Biden is seeking an economically stronger middle class and working class, while ensuring that historically disadvantaged communities, including those of color, benefit.
Yesterday, Biden signed an executive order aimed at more resilient supply chains with the longer-term strategic goal of competition with China.
The statement ends with a discussion about the impact on jobs and communities within the US.
President Biden has directed his Administration to ensure that the task of building resilient supply chains draws on the talent and work ethic of communities across America, including communities of color and cities and towns that have for too long suffered from job losses and industrial decline. As the Administration implements the Executive Order, it will identify opportunities to implement policies to secure supply chains that grow the American economy, increase wages, benefit small businesses and historically disadvantaged communities, strengthen pandemic and biopreparedness, support the fight against global climate change, and maintain America’s technological leadership in key sectors.
So in the Biden playbook, the nation’s “unlimited competition” with China will run right through communities in need of jobs, higher wages and more opportunity. Whether Biden will be successful remains to be seen, of course. Biden will require support in Congress. Having said that, programs that see government dollars flowing to localities can always be shaped to gain a given representative’s support.
Is there any precedence for this? Yes, actually. NASA’s creation is a one example. People today wonder why NASA has so many facilities flung so widely across the US and the South. This was done during the Civil Rights era, in part, to assure that people in places like Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama benefited from the space race, as well as California, Texas, and Florida.
Last week, ahead of the opening of the National People’s Conference, a spokeswoman for the country’s legislature laid out China’s position on security in the region.
China seeks to solve disputes through negotiation and diplomacy, National People’s Congress spokeswoman Fu Ying said…
“Historically China has had weak national defense, and was subject to the hurtful lessons of bullying,” Fu told a briefing in Beijing. “Chinese people’s historical memories of this problem are deep, so we need a solid national defense.”
Solid defense is a fair enough goal, given China’s history. But it’s the volatile nature of resolving issues through action on the high seas, rather than through diplomacy, that is causing the alarm. China seems to have little appetite for diplomacy with either Vietnam or the Philippines.
A revealing exchange to me, is the idea that there can be little historical precedent for China’s development.
Asked about political reform, Fu said China would not copy the model of other countries.
“You cannot say that if China’s reform is not following the model of other countries then China is not following political reform,” she said. “This is unfair and not correct.”
Japan and Indonesia are taking small steps in the area of cooperating on defence. This is reminder for anyone who thinks Japan’s past role in the Asian region will prevent them from building ties today. The cooperation appears modest – disaster relief and counter terrorism. But the shared interests are apparent.
The equation is simple: with the exception of China and Korea, historical anger about Japan’s role in WWII becomes less intense now that fears for China are escalating.
Without a doubt, the Indonesians have felt the squeeze of the Chinese power. While Japan, since rebuilding, has been very much inside the international, multilateral framework that China is outside of. And these movements on defence diplomacy are a reminder of sea change that is gripping the region.
“As the two countries have observed Indonesia-Japan ties are very good, robust and improving, especially in the sectors of defense and military,” Yudhoyono said upon welcoming his Japanese guests.
Separately, this article from Australia makes a good point about how some nations in the region, New Zealand, but also a lesser degree Australia, have in recent years bought into the notion that they are “post-modern” states that have little need for a military, as war itself is somewhat an outdated notion.
The thought reveals the far-flung perspective of the far-flung countries, which possibly more than the Europeans and Americans, have seized on more completely the mantra that a world of globalised trade could not possibly devolve into conflict. And yet, it underscores a naivete that is compounded by the distance and rosy scenarios of businessmen. I suppose countries like Indonesia knows a little about the risks based on geography. And for that reason, making common cause, in a limited capacity, with a more powerful neighbor – Japan – makes sense.