President Joe Biden is reconstructing his message to avoid hurting Asian allies about America’s thoughts on China as he tries to strengthen relations with them.
Australia, Japan, and India are all concerned about Beijing’s economic and military clout, and the Quad’s first meeting on Friday will be a show of solidarity against Beijing. Nonetheless, they are wary of being drawn into a solely anti-China bloc by the United States, particularly given their trade relations with the world’s second-largest economy.
As a result, the current US administration is tailoring its outreach to the Quad to highlight the ability to cooperate on a wide range of issues. This includes the coronavirus pandemic and environmental issues.
“A vaccine initiative could show that look, this is a positive contribution to the region. This isn’t just about containing China, this is a value add that will benefit a number of countries and show what pooled capabilities can do,” said Tanvi Madan. She is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
According to the White House, the administration plans to use Friday’s talks to look at a variety of possible areas of collaboration. Nonetheless, Biden’s team made it clear that the meeting is supposed to send a message to China.
“That President Biden has made this one of his earliest multilateral engagements speaks to the importance we place on close cooperation with our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific,” Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary said.
“There will always be overlapping interests and areas of mutual concern, and the Quad can focus on vaccine access or infrastructure financing in Southeast Asia as examples of this,” said Natasha Kassam. She is the director of the Lowy Institute’s public opinion and foreign policy program.
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“But on thornier security questions, particularly that directly relate to China, it is hard to imagine the four coming to shared positions.” She added.
As per Ryan Hass, a Brookings fellow who previously supervised China affairs at the US National Security Council, Quad leaders are likely to concentrate on other concerns for the time being.
“Implicit in the structure of the agenda will be a recognition that the U.S. and others will enjoy greater attraction and influence by delivering solutions to problems than by presenting opposition to China. If the coordinated efforts of the Quad countries spur China to up its efforts to deliver solutions to regional challenges, that’s all for the better.” He said.