The Sunday editions of all national papers highlighted the Indo-Pacific strategy that the Biden administration released on Friday, explaining that the United States is committed to deepening security and economic cooperation with regional allies and friends to counter China’s hegemonic ambitions. In the comprehensive document that sets forth Washington’s strategic posture in the region for the coming decade, the administration expressed alarm over Beijing’s relentless attempts to challenge the postwar international order. “Our collective efforts over the next decade will determine whether the PRC succeeds in transforming the rules and norms that have benefitted the Indo-Pacific and the world,” the document says. The local press took special note of the strategy’s reference to Washington’s resolve to deter aggression against U.S. allies and partners, including across the Taiwan Strait, launch an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) this year, and help promote reconciliation between Japan and South Korea.
Asahi expressed the view that the new strategic document represents Washington’s concern that the United States is “on the defensive” on all fronts in the face of China’s aggressive diplomatic, economic, and military conduct. The daily also said that although Washington apparently recognizes the need to deepen its economic engagement with Asia to restore U.S. leadership, the proposed IPEF initiative will probably be insufficient to court China-dependent ASEAN members given that the Biden administration is hesitant to commit to expanding market access for trade partners under the IPEF.
Nikkei said the document signifies Washington’s admission that it can no longer deter China alone, interpreting the new security doctrine as a call for Japan and other allies to bolster their own defense capabilities in coordination with the U.S. military. The paper speculated that the United States wants to work with Japan to map out operational plans for the U.S. military and SDF to respond to a Taiwan contingency and develop technology to counter the hypersonic missiles of China, North Korea, and Russia.