US President Joe Biden’s decision to pull out of his trip to Australia and Papua New Guinea, ensuing the cancellation of the Quad summit in Sydney, has generated many pricking questions about the sincerity of the American commitment toward this region and its capacity of keeping promises if not diplomatic etiquette.
The anticipated Quad summit in Sydney, initially slated for May 24, was called off due to Biden's rush to Washington to extinguish the fiscal inferno of a potential domestic debt default. Yet, one cannot help but sense a palpable shift in the air; the cancellation of the Sydney summit emerges as an ill-fated harbinger, casting doubt upon the future prospects of the Quad as a viable alliance.
Ironically, Western media has made shallow and sarcastic comments on China, instead of lambasting Washington for a major diplomatic fiasco. “The Chinese government is probably the biggest winner from Joe Biden’s decision to pull out of his trip to Australia and Papua New Guinea, forcing the cancellation of the Quad summit in Sydney,” opined an article in the Guardian while discussing the cancellation of the Quad.
Biden’s decision to return back to Washington after the G7 summit in Hiroshima is likely to further aggravate dwindling reliability of Washington due to a combination of factors
The current narrative of the Western media surrounding the canceled Quad summit in Sydney simply exposes their addiction to hyping US-China competition, rife with speculative gimmicks to hurl sarcastic at China.
This unfortunate portrayal reflects poorly on both the US government and the Quad alliance, suggesting a lack of substantive achievements. If there were concrete and meaningful agendas and discussions at hand, the emphasis wouldn't be fixated on mere conjecture regarding China's role.
The Quad, an alliance initiated by Japan and formed by the United States, Japan, Australia, and India, is widely seen as a symbol of a unified front against China's mounting influence in the Asia-Pacific region. The Quad's primary objective was to demonstrate a collective resolve to counterbalance China's “expanding power and assertiveness” in the region.
Yet, it seems this ambitious endeavor has encountered a major setback. This would have been the third in-person summit of the Quad leaders, who were expected to discuss deepening their cooperation on a range of issues -- including China, critical and emerging technologies, climate change and maritime domain awareness, as per a statement released by the White House last month.
The United States finds itself in a precarious situation as its credibility begins to falter. The US is struggling to financially sustain its global strategic objectives, which not only demand substantial financial resources but also rely on confrontational approaches that run contrary to prevailing trends.
The gathering of the Quad in Sydney and President Biden's scheduled visit to Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, were planned as part of a comprehensive strategy to fortify American alliances and presence in the Pacific.
With China's growing presence in the region through huge developmental projects and trade activities, the United States is eager to bolster its alliances in the region, but Biden’s decision to return back to Washington after the G7 summit in Hiroshima is likely to further aggravate dwindling reliability of Washington due to a combination of factors.
First, the Quad's member countries have differing priorities, perspectives, and concerns regarding China's rise. This divergence has already complicated the efforts to maintain a cohesive front.
Second, internal dynamics within each nation can influence their level of commitment and willingness to challenge China collectively.
Additionally, the Quad faces the challenge of managing its relationship with other regional actors, such as Southeast Asian countries, who have reservations about being caught in the middle of a potential US-China rivalry although China has emphasized cooperation and coexistence for a share future.
By eschewing the summit, Biden has also caused a big political blow to host Australia, which had already set aside $23m for the costs of hosting the summit – In fact, the Australian government had announced a national public holiday on this occasion. So, the lesions are much deeper than what Biden had assumed before cancelling his trip to Sydney.
The author is an international affairs commentator and freelancer based in Karachi, Pakistan.
The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
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