The GuardianThe Guardian

Is China stepping up its ambition to supplant US as top superpower?

By Patrick Wintour

22 Sep 2021 · 7 min read

It may have been an inelegantly, even ineptly, executed pivot, gratuitously alienating key allies, but by leaving Afghanistan and forming the Australian, US and UK security pact in the Indo-Pacific, Joe Biden has at least cleared the decks to focus on his great foreign policy challenge – the systemic rivalry with China.

Yet the concern now is how quickly this rivalry could escalate, especially in Taiwan. The linchpin of the US alliance system in south-east Asia, Taiwan is the biggest island in the “first island chain”, the group of islands that keeps China blocked in. It is China’s next target, and as the former British prime minister Theresa May pointed out, no one quite knows if the west is prepared to fight to save Taiwan or whether the new tripartite pact in some way places a new obligation on the UK to come to the country’s defence.

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