BIDEN TRIES TO SOFTEN ANTI-CHINA TACK FOR QUAD MEMBERS
As President Joe Biden seeks to shore up ties with allies in Asia, he’s reshaping the message to avoid spooking them about America’s intentions when it comes to China, Iain Marlow, Archana Chaudhury, and Justin Sink reported for Bloomberg News.
Australia, Japan, and India all fret about Beijing’s expanding economic and military heft, and the first meeting on Friday of leaders of the group known as the Quad will be a show of unity against Beijing.
Even so, they are wary of being pulled by the US into a purely anti-China bloc, especially given the trade ties each has with the world’s second-biggest economy.
So the new US administration is calibrating its outreach to the Quad to emphasize the opportunity to work collectively on a variety of broader issues, including combating the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
While Biden is likely to continue a hard line on Beijing, seen by its move to ban the export of 5G components to Huawei Technologies Co., the administration is seeking to avoid the perception it’s only interested in other countries in the region for their help on that.
It comes as the US kicks off a flurry of diplomatic engagements with Asia, including the virtual Quad meeting.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin are also traveling to North Asia early next week to reassure Japan and South Korea of longstanding security agreements before Austin goes onto India.
Those talks are likely to set the tone for a meeting next week between top diplomats from America and China -- the highest level engagement since Biden took office.
However, there is no stopping the US from utilizing Quad navies to bolster its position that China should be stopped from acting as the owner of the sea lanes in Southeast Asia, through which $3-trillion in goods pass through each year.