Biden Begins Trip to Asia Meant to Reassure Allies of Focus on China

SEOUL — President Biden embarked Thursday on his first diplomatic mission to Asia since taking office, hoping to demonstrate that the United States remained focused on countering China, even as his administration stage-managed a war against Russia in Europe. With his original strategy of pivoting foreign policy attention to Asia effectively blown up by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Biden has now shifted to the argument that there can be no trade-off between Europe and Asia and that only the United States can bring together the democracies of the East…

Your Tuesday Briefing: Russia’s Faltering Campaign

Good morning. We’re covering Russia’s struggling military campaign, Australia’s halting recovery from bush fires and a Covid-19 protest at Peking University. Russia scales back its charge east After a series of military setbacks, Moscow now appears to be focusing on a narrow objective: widening its holdings in Ukraine’s eastern region of Donbas. But even there Russia may be forced to scale back its ambition to take most of eastern Ukraine, according to the Institute for the Study of War. Russia still controls the wide swath of southern Ukraine it seized…

Solomon Islands’ Leader Calls Concern Over China Security Deal ‘Insulting’

solomon islands leader calls concern over china security deal insulting

MELBOURNE, Australia — In a fiery speech confirming that the Solomon Islands has drafted a security agreement with China, the island nation’s leader said on Tuesday that the deal was “ready for signing” and criticized as “insulting” concerns from Australia and New Zealand that the pact could destabilize the region’s security. Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s remarks to Parliament marked the first time he had addressed the leak last week of a draft of the security agreement. The draft — which was shared by opponents of the deal and verified as…

China and Solomon Islands Draft Secret Security Pact

SYDNEY, Australia — A leaked document has revealed that China and the Solomon Islands are close to signing a security agreement that could open the door to Chinese troops and naval warships flowing into a Pacific Island nation that played a pivotal role in World War II. The agreement, kept secret until now, was shared online Thursday night by opponents of the deal and verified as legitimate by the Australian government. Though it is marked as a draft and cites a need for “social order” as a justification for sending…

Your Monday Briefing: Shelling in Ukraine intensifies

Russia’s imminent invasion? U.S. intelligence learned last week that the Kremlin had ordered an invasion of Ukraine to proceed, prompting a dire warning by President Biden that President Vladimir Putin had made the decision to attack. The new intelligence reveals that 40 to 50 percent of the Russian forces surrounding Ukraine have moved out of staging and into combat formation. Russian artillery fire escalated sharply in eastern Ukraine this weekend, deepening fears of an imminent attack and potentially giving Russia a pretext to invade. Ukrainians reluctantly left their homes, some…

U.S. and Others Pledge Export Controls Tied to Human Rights

u s and others pledge export controls tied to human rights scaled

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration announced a partnership on Friday with Australia, Denmark, Norway, Canada, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom to try to stem the flow of sensitive technologies to authoritarian governments. The partnership, named the Export Controls and Human Rights Initiative, calls for the countries to align their policies on exports of key technologies and develop a voluntary written code of conduct to apply human rights criteria to export licenses, according to a White House statement. The effort is aimed at combating the rise of “digital authoritarianism”…

What AUKUS Means for U.S.-China Great Power Competition

what aukus means for u s china great power competition

This is a hallmark of great power competition: Competitive initiatives like AUKUS provide visible ways to counter or balance or complicate China’s military activities but don’t necessarily help allies meet defined objectives. More often, competition becomes an end in itself — an open-ended imperative that assumes everything an opponent dislikes must be good policy. Another common feature of competitive policies is that officials tend to overlook their costs. For one thing, AUKUS carries significant diplomatic costs at a time when the United States is in desperate need of credibility with…

Australia’s Costs for Its Harder Line on China

australias costs for its harder line on china

CANBERRA, Australia — Four years after declaring that it would “stand up” to China, Australia is wrestling with the economic and political consequences of a sharp turn in policy and tone that has helped send relations with Beijing into their deepest chill in decades. Allies have applauded Australia for showing how the world’s smaller powers can redefine ties with China — a trailblazing push that deepened this month with Australia’s decision to acquire American nuclear-powered submarines. But to increasingly vocal critics, Australia also offers warnings about the risks of losing…

At U.N., Biden Calls for Diplomacy, not Conflict, but Some Are Skeptical

at u n biden calls for diplomacy not conflict but some are skeptical

President Biden, fighting mounting doubts among America’s allies about his commitment to working with them, used his debut address to the United Nations on Tuesday to call for “relentless diplomacy” on climate change, the pandemic and efforts to blunt the expanding influence of autocratic nations like China and Russia. In a 30-minute address in the hall of the General Assembly, Mr. Biden called for a new era of global action, making the case that a summer of wildfires, excessive heat and the resurgence of the coronavirus required a new era…

Australia’s Submarine Deal Adds to Asia Arms Buildup

australias submarine deal adds to asia arms buildup

Positioning the hard-to-track submarines closer to seas near China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula could be a powerful deterrent against China’s military, said Drew Thompson, a former Pentagon official responsible for relations with China. “The Middle East wars have ended,” said Mr. Thompson, now a visiting senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore. “We are in an interwar period, and the next one will be a high-end, high-intensity conflict with a near-peer competitor, probably involving China, and most likely in northeast Asia.” After condemning the submarine agreement last…