Richard Nixon has often been blamed for bringing China out of the Mao-era rotten hole and giving it a new lease of life. Many even say that it was Nixon and Kissinger who opened up China as a possible competitor of the US, thus enabling a country which could have become the enemy of the United States. However, a few decades later, it was due to the policies and preferences of Obama, that, what Nixon had started became a reality and the Chinese were knocking on the doors of the US. All the while, Joe Biden was the Vice-President back then, which means he was the equal contributor to Obama’s disastrous foreign policy vis-a-vis for China.
The fact that his foreign policy preferences find no mention of China in the most important section, we can be certain that, he is going to demolish all the work that Donald Trump has done to contain the paper dragon. Biden is also looking for ways to go back to the Obama era Iran Nuclear Deal. This means that he is single-mindedly focused to bring back the Obama era foreign policy. This will surely lead to the US retreating from the Indo-Pacific, which will, in turn, provide enough open space for China to chip away the area of influence of the US, which Trump tried so hard to maintain.
January 20, was the last day of US President Donald Trump’s first term, and on the morning of January 21, Joe Biden officially took over. With this, the genuine question on everyone’s mind is, what will be his foreign policy as, during the time of his vice-presidency, China had very comfortably increased its dominance over the South China Sea? In 2018, Trump called the Obama administration “impotent” for not taking any concrete action against the Chinese on the South China Sea issue.
With Biden assuming the presidency of the USA, there is every possibility that China will take advantage of his loose attitude and will try to increase its way in the Indian Ocean too. However, India will not let these dreams of China be fulfilled, as the country assumes the most dominant position in the Indian Ocean Region geographically and it being a military powerhouse certainly adds to that. In such a situation, despite Biden’s lethargic attitude, there is no possibility of China taking over the Indian Ocean.
When Obama was the President of the USA from 2009 to 2017, China had almost taken the South China Sea in its grasp. The Chinese administration not only annexed several islands but also created several man-made islands in the South China Sea to further its disputed 9 Dash Line claims. Even now the PLA maintains its military bases on many such islands.
In 2013, a huge controversy arose between China and the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal Island of the Philippines, and as a result, Manila went knocking on the UN’s door. ICJ gave the judgement in Manila’s favour and reprimanded the paper dragon, but it refused to listen to the UN. When everyone expected the US to come and force China to accept the ruling, it maintained Zen-like silence while the Chinese got hold of the entire South China Sea.
Now when Biden is coming to power, China has gotten all the more confident and thinks it has a great opportunity to increase its dominance in the Indian Ocean after its successful stride in the South China Sea. Under Trump, the South China Sea situation had become difficult for China, but after Biden’s arrival, it thinks it can go back to its expansionist policies. The US does not have a concrete policy for the Indian Ocean and in all seriousness, it does not even look interested in consulting its allies and find ways to create an Indian Ocean policy. In such a situation, China would like to take advantage of Biden’s soft approach here and plan to infiltrate the Indian Ocean.
However, it will not be easy for China to increase its penetration in the Indian Ocean like the South China Sea. India is not a small naval power like Indonesia, Philippines or Vietnam, but the largest and most dominant power of the Indian Ocean. It is continuously concretising its influence in the Indian Ocean, along with countries like Japan, France and Australia and to end the Chinese influence. Recently India along with France and Japan announced the launch of another trilateral parallel to Quad.
Taking advantage of Biden’s sluggish policy, China can undoubtedly think of trying its luck in the Indian Ocean, but here it is going to face nothing but disappointment, as India is ready to welcome the paper dragon any day.