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Donald Trump has shown that the main enemy for USA is China. The South Pacific is an area of Sino- US competition. It will not be strange that the American president will use NATO as an additional factor of deterrence.

The new developments from December 2019 till nowadays have created a new environment for the NATO’s policy. A new planning is anticipated and Oceania is a crucial factor on those plans due to China.

 

The Chinese power

China the last ten years has developed its abilities. Concerning the military sector, it has achieved a lot of things. To begin with, it has upgraded its armed forces and its military capabilities. The insertion of new weapon systems (aircraft carriers, stealth planes, new ships) has given a serious advantage. In addition, the policy of militarization of the South China Sea which is obvious by the construction of new islands out of nowhere or/and the militarization of the current ones has as a result the control over that maritime region. It’s about a vital area for US interests and for global shipping. A possible Chinese domination in one of the most vital naval routes in the world will inflict seriously the US interests. Moreover, the OBOR initiative is another reason of worry. It will increase drastically the Chinese power and influence and a strong army guarantees the appropriate function of it. The above facts in combination with the economic penetration on the neighboring countries and further on Oceania- especially on Australia- create a new framework. USA has mot any more the monopoly of power in South Pacific. China challenges it. In conclusion, the Chinese power in South Pacific basin is undoubted and it comes in contrast with the US presence.

The role of Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand face the Chinese expansion at all sectors. It is evident that they cannot tackle with it. China already has penetrated in depth economically and culturally into Australia, while the Chinese cultural influence is present in New Zealand. Also, the two Pacific countries feel that they cannot do much in order to balance the military power for now. That fact has led both governments to take actions against the Chinese, sometimes unethical under American pressure. Australia has taken the most actions. They include the order of new weapon systems such as the F-35 military aircraft, new submarines and new armored vehicles, while Canberra has started a low intense economic/trade war against China.

In that environment, Washington understands that Oceania can be a bastion against the spread of Chinese influence. It is not weird that it presses Canberra and Wellington to turn against Beijing in an attempt to eliminate the Chinese presence. What is more, Trump’s government organizes a new net of strategic partnerships and enhances the already existed alliances so as to create a “wall” that will halt the growing China. That organization contains the sale of military equipment, military exercises, economic and political/diplomatic aid.

Because of the turn of the American focus on the South Pacific basin, the European Union will have to deal with its defence alone in the biggest part. NATO will not offer the protection it offered before. It will maintain a presence on the borders with Russia, but the things will not be the same as they were during the Cold War and the years afterwards.

NATO in Oceania?

However, the above measures are not enough. China continues its program and projects its power. It has a clear strategy and implements it. So, the White House has to do more things. A new strategic planning is needed, different from the traditional one. This signs the appearance of NATO. China by the time is the No1 enemy of the United States. The South Pacific basin has an exceptional position for the American policy makers. Oceania plays an important role too.

So, the American authorities may have decided to review the national strategy in the 21th century. They can perceive that their actions have not born satisfactory results. NATO is the only factor Washington has to use and multiply the ability of a deterrent policy in that maritime region. Australia already maintains a strategic bond with USA and NATO and New Zealand can be added in that partnership. As a result, NATO will expand its operations in a place it had no presence before. It is not strange that USA shifts the focal point of the Atlantic Alliance from Europe (against Russia) to the Pacific. This shift will be the main mark of the new American strategy in the present century. This does not mean that NATO’s forces will abandon the eastern European countries, but the main target is China. The new Cold War has begun in the South Pacific and NATO will play its role as a tool of the American strategy. Oceania offers a very good chance because not only its states have a collaboration with the Alliance, but also the two countries of that continent  belong to the Western civilization and they can accept better the NATO’s presence than the other Asian states. Oceania, in other words, will be the anti-Chinese bastion and the American presence will be total as it was during the previous Cold War in Europe.

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