U.S. alliances with S. Korea, others key to countering Chinese aggression: ambassador nominee

October 20, 2021

 The United States’ alliances with South Korea and others including Japan are key to dealing with China, nominee for U.S. ambassador to China Richard Nicholas Burns said Wednesday.

Burns also said U.S. alliances provided a “comparative advantage” over China.

“The comparative advantage that we have versus China is that we have treaty allies. We have partners who deeply believe in us and the Chinese really do not,” the former under secretary of state for political affairs said in his confirmation hearing before the Senate foreign relations committee.

“And so in the Indo-Pacific, I think President (Joe) Biden has tried to emphasize the need for us to be very closely aligned with Japan, with South Korea, with Australia, our treaty allies, (and) our defense partners, the Philippines and Thailand,” he added.

His remarks come amid growing competition and contention between the United States and China, while many observers also point to the increasing potential of direct confrontation over Taiwan.

Burns said the U.S. must continue to advance its partnerships and alliances in the Indo-Pacific region such as the quadrilateral security initiative, known as the Quad, between Australia, India, Japan and the U.S.

The U.S. has also recently launched a new trilateral security initiative with Australia and Britain that seeks to deliver nuclear-powered submarines to Australia in what many view as an effort to counter China’s growing military presence in the East China Sea and South China Sea.

“What distinguishes us and strengthens us is the fact that we have our alliance with Japan, and our alliance with Australia and South Korea,” said Burns.