December 21, 2020
On December 21st, the Taiwan Center for Security Studies and the Synergia Foundation (Bengaluru, India) hosted a joint webinar centered around the incoming Biden administration’s Asia policy. Underscoring the importance of multilateralism in the region and a U.S. committed to its allies and partners, Dr. Fu-Kuo Liu (Director, Taiwan Center for Security Studies), Mr. Tobby Simon (Founder and President, Synergia Foundation), and Dr. Rockford Weitz (Director, Maritime Studies Program, The Fletcher School of Tufts University) led the panel in discussing the future of U.S. foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific as well as strategic competition with Beijing.
During the panel presentation, Dr. Weitz stated that given the seismic shift in attitude of U.S. policy overseas during the past four years, the Biden administration would seek to reengage and cooperate with the Indo-Pacific and ‘build norms’ once again. Stressing that global climate change is an area that Biden would seek to address and potentially cooperate with countries in the region.
For Biden’s utmost priority in the region, Dr. Liu assessed that the most pressing matter that Biden faces would be first and foremost consolidating and employing its China policy, and a close second would be addressing the ongoing tensions in the South China Sea. Dr. Liu further observed that Biden would attempt to stabilize relations with China, but strategic competition will almost certainly carry on for the foreseeable future.
As for the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad), the United States’ relationship with the Quad seems almost certain to grow and continue, if not advancing the partnership to even higher and broader aspects of cooperation. Mr. Simon from the Synergia Foundation projected that the Quad could eventually grow beyond a military alliance, into a more economic partnership. Nonetheless, it is clear that the Quad enjoys bipartisan support in Washington. Moving forward it would involve a whole-of-government approach from the U.S. under Biden, which Dr. Weitz viewed would be a two-pronged approach, involving both military and diplomacy.
The panel then took questions from the audience submitted via live chat. Discussions ensued ranging from regional FTAs and trading blocs, post-Second World War institutions, India-Taiwan relations and geopolitics. U.S.-China-Taiwan relations was also highlighted when a question was raised regarding the lack of an FTA between the U.S. and Taiwan in light of deteriorating cross-strait relations. Several speakers stressed that a free trade agreement, however, would not be top of the mind for the Biden administration, at least not until the second year of his presidency, due to domestic challenges back home.
With regards to the mutual challenges faced by the region—the pandemic, global warming, etc.—the event ended on a hopeful note, seeking to continue further discussion and collaboration in the year to come.