International security experts have sounded the alarm on the formation of a menacing alliance, termed “CRINKs,” comprising China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. The experts, gathered at the 2023 Halifax International Security Forum, warned that this alliance poses a significant challenge to U.S.-led democracies in the Indo-Pacific theatre.
During panel discussions held on November 17–19, political and military leaders expressed deep concern about the collaboration between these hostile regimes. Josh Rogin, a columnist with The Washington Post and moderator of a panel on November 17, emphasized that adversaries are uniting against democracies in various regions, including Ukraine, Israel, Europe, and the Pacific.
Rogin highlighted China’s collaboration with Russia in supporting Hamas diplomatically and assisting Russia and Iran in evading Western sanctions. Iran, in turn, is supplying arms to both Russia and Hamas, while North Korea exports weapons to Russia for its war against Ukraine.
Vincent Chao, director and spokesperson for Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party, warned that a Russian victory in Ukraine would send a powerful message to authoritarian regimes globally, potentially emboldening them in the face of democracy’s decline. Chao stressed the necessity for democracies to stand together to counteract the ambitions of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), particularly in its desire to forcibly bring Taiwan under its control.
Nathan Law, a former Hong Kong politician in exile in the UK, highlighted at a separate panel on November 18 that Chinese leader Xi Jinping desires a prolonged Ukraine war to divert global attention away from China. Law expressed concerns that a successful Russian annexation of Ukraine could provide leverage for Beijing to collaborate with other authoritarian states.
In response to the growing threats, speakers at the forum, including U.S. Army General Charles Flynn and Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff, General Wayne Eyre, emphasized the importance of standing against aggression and upholding international norms. General Flynn voiced concerns about the potential for a Pacific war amid conflicts in Europe and the Middle East, while General Eyre underscored the broader implications for the Asia-Pacific Indo-Pacific region.
The speakers unanimously advocated for a united front among democracies, emphasizing the need to confront what they described as the most significant threat to the international order since the end of the Cold War.
As tensions rise, the world watches closely to see how democracies will respond to the growing alliance of authoritarian regimes and the challenges it poses to global stability.