U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin conducted a Pacific tour in late July in an attempt to strengthen Washington's influence in the region by sowing discord between China and Pacific island countries. The tour is the latest U.S. effort to implement its so-called "Indo-Pacific strategy," which involves strengthening military cooperation with its regional allies and pitching the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) to exclude China from regional trading systems and supply chains.
Ahead of next week's key meeting between the United States and 13 Asian and Australiasian nations, more than 100 civil society groups told the Biden administration on Friday that transparent negotiations and increased public input are necessary to prevent an embryonic trade deal from being perceived as the latest iteration of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. "We share your goal of creating a new model for U.S. trade policy that prioritizes the interests of working people, communities of color, the environment, consumers, and family farmers instead of just big corporations," the coalition wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden. "The launch of your administration's Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) may be a test case for what this model looks like and what it can achieve."
The Pentagon recently asked Congress for an astronomical $27 billion budget increase to support a massive military buildup in Asia as part of its new Indo-Pacific plan, which calls for a substantially more aggressive military stance against China. With the US already ranking first in military spending worldwide and holding more than 290 military bases in the Asia-Pacific region alone, this aggressive buildup is being proposed at the most financially precarious moment in US history. According to the Congressional Budget Office report released this month, federal debt is projected to reach 102% of GDP by the end of 2021 before surpassing its historical high of 107% in 2031 and going on to nearly double to 202% by 2051. According to Doug Bandow, “Uncle Sam is headed toward insolvency.”