Retired Army Gen. Jack Keane said on Sunday that U.S. allies in Asia were confident that former President Donald Trump “had their back” in terms of facing down China, but he’s not certain the Biden administration is up to the task.
In a lengthy interview with Fox News host Mark Levin, Keane voiced approval for some of the current administration’s very early foreign policy moves regarding China. But he added that it remains to be seen if President Joe Biden will follow in his predecessor’s footsteps when it comes to dealing with the near-peer great power.
As the segment began, Levin observed that China is “picking fights with a lot of countries” including Vietnam and Japan, before asking if Tokyo, in particular, was “beefing up” its military to counter China’s growing power.
“Oh, yes, very definitely,” Keane, a former vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, began before switching gears.
(Video: Fox News)
“Let me deal with this whole ally thing. One of the things that President Trump was able to do — and he’s never gonna get any credit for it from the Biden administration, to be sure — is to make certain our allies know the United States has their back.”
Keane went on to explain that the previous president “revitalized ‘The Quad’” — an informal security alliance consisting of the U.S., India, Japan, and Australia, as a counterbalance to China.
“These are like-minded democracies who have one thing in common…the threat of China,” Keane said, adding that the alliance was first started under then-President George W. Bush in 2007, but then left “dormant” under his successors, Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
The group of countries, which consists of three of the world’s four biggest economies, has also conducted joint military operations throughout the Asia-Pacific region and has collectively pushed back on China’s cyber warfare efforts, Keane said, adding that China has also retaliated.
The retired four-star general explained that initially India, which remained neutral historically throughout the Cold War and beyond, increased its participation and strengthened its resolve within the alliance thanks, in part, to Trump’s assurances but also China’s increased aggression along their shared border.
Keane also said the Vietnamese, who have a good relationship with the U.S., are similar in their Communist ideology with China but little else, “and they are fed up with China’s absolute intimidation and coercion of their fishing rights” in Hanoi’s territorial waters.
Meanwhile, Japan is increasing its capabilities by purchasing advanced F-35 fighter planes and bolstering their navy and missile defenses in the face of China’s rising offensive ballistic missile technology.
“This is a big deal what the Japanese are doing,” Keane said.
“Now, this administration has already had discussions with this quad group and President Biden participated in the discussions,” he added. “To be frank about it, that surprised me. And what they are saying is, is that this revitalized alliance, which President Trump initiated, is something they want to participate in, and they likely wanna increase it and strengthen it.”
He noted further: “That is a good thing. Our allies really matter in the region, and they’ve been under the gun for so many years.”
When Trump was elected, Keane said he came in “and started to take their back, and get our military capability out there so they can see it.”
He also said that Trump “changed rhetoric” towards China, which was also noted by our allies.
“That began to change in terms of strengthening the spines of our allies,” Keane said.
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