One of the biggest challenges faced by the Biden administration in the Asia and Pacific Region is unquestionably the rapidly increasing PRC’s influence in the entirety of East Asia and Pacific. Bloody border conflicts initiated with India in Ladakh, the militarization of the islands in the South China Sea, the tension over Senkaku/Diaoyu rocks with Japan in the East China Sea, recently deepened trade and security crises with Australia are a few clear examples of the increasing domination of PRC in the region.
The efforts of the PRC to expand its power projection into the region by hard power methods such us in the South China Sea, the investments made in the Southeast Asian countries have also caused some countries that previously stood close to the US to enter the PRC orbit with soft power methods. The Philippines is one of these countries. Although it still maintains good relations with the US, it also takes a closer stance to the PRC moreover can take a stand against the USA on some specific issues.
North Korea is a second-degree enemy power viewed by the United States as a great threat. It is known that with the missile systems it has exhibited in the military parade that it has recently organized, North Korea has now acquired weapon systems that can target both the US allies, US military bases in the region, and the cities in the US continent. This means that the US is dealing with another nuclear power besides the PRC. Beyond that, North Korea and PRC are very close allies. The emerging new situation shows that the USA will have much more difficulty in balancing these two nuclear powers in the region.
The military coup in Myanmar will make the situation in the region even more intractable for the USA. The US almost lacks the financial options to impose an embargo on the military administration in Myanmar, and it is likely that the military administration will ally with the PRC if it applies harsh pressure. It is also unclear whether the pressure on the military administration that took over Myanmar through allied countries such as India, Japan, and Australia will be effective in a short time.
It will be very difficult for the US to gain the upper hand in the region under present circumstances. The Biden administration probably will first have to repair the alliance system, which was damaged during the Trump era, on the other hand, some of the countries in the region have entered the orbit of the PRC. The pandemic is an issue that makes all the work more difficult, and it leads to the restriction of many movements, both militarily and socially.
Despite the stated difficulties, there are sufficient reasons for the USA to maintain its superiority in the region. First of all, the US still has clear military superiority. Although the Alliance system is damaged, the damage is not heavy and deep and will take a very short time to repair. Moreover, although there are countries that stand close to the PRC, the countries on the US side are the ones that are far ahead in both economic and military terms. Thanks to these options, the US has the opportunity to contain the PRC with more powerful methods.
Considering the areas where the PRC has the upper hand over the US, such as the Navy, it will certainly not be enough for the US to act against the PRC with the existing alliance system. In addition, the US can further strengthen this system by adding new member states to the Quad. Vietnam seems to be among the most likely countries to join the Quad membership in the future and will be a highly new strategic ally for the US. Both its location at the bottom of the PRC and the conflicts with the PRC in the South China Sea make Vietnam a more important alternative for Quad. Indonesia can also be considered an important ally for the US as part of the expansion of the Quad. Its conflicts with the PRC in the South China Sea and around Natuna Islands will lead Indonesia closer to the United States.
The US efforts to prevent the rising PRC and the dissatisfaction of the PRC with the current regional order dominated by the US has led to the formation of a regional cold war camp between the dominant power and the emerging power, while at the same time bringing the possibility of a hot conflict. These frictions, which will intensify in the region between the global power and the rising power, will make the Asia and the Pacific region a major crisis area and lead the world to turn their attention to this side. The European countries and the United Kingdom became the earliest countries that turned to this region due to their presence in the region. The rest of the world began to turn their directions to Asia and the Pacific in turn.