Revealing that Beijing tried to dissuade Washington from forming the Quad with India, Japan and Australia, US President Joe Biden outlined a two-front response to China and Russia, shoring up both Pacific and Atlantic partnerships during his Europe trip. The intent to restore multilateral US primacy in the face of challenges from China and Russia was expressed in statements that bluntly named the countries and the US response to what Washington sees as their not playing by global rules.
In course of a press conference at the end of the G7 summit in the UK, President Biden revealed that a Chinese leader, when told that he (Biden) when elected president was going to “reestablish the strength of American relationships so we can be counted on again... suggested ‘Well, maybe you shouldn’t get the Quad… — meaning India, Japan, Australia, and the US — and maybe you shouldn’t be pushing on strengthening the EU’.”
But that is precisely what Biden has sought to accomplish during his maiden presidential visit across the pond — strengthening Pacific and Atlantic partnerships to contain China and Russia in a pincer, even though they present different challenges. “I conveyed to each of my G7 counterparts that... America is back at the table. The lack of participation in the past and full engagement was noticed significantly, not only by the leaders of those countries but also by the people in the G7 countries,” Biden said in an oblique swipe at his predecessor Donald Trump at a press meet at the conclusion of G7, adding, “America is back in the business of leading the world alongside nations who share our most deeply held values....”
Elaborating on unprecedented multiple references to China in the G7 communique, Biden, having launched a counter to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative with the so-called B3W (“Build Back Better World”) Partnership, said the US is not looking for a conflict with China but will respond to actions that are inconsistent with international norms. “I know this is going to sound somewhat prosaic, but I think we’re in a contest — not with China per se, but a contest with autocrats, autocratic governments around the world, as to whether or not democracies can compete with them in the rapidly changing 21st century. And I think how we act and whether we pull together as democracies is going to determine whether our grandkids look back 15 years from now and say, ‘Did they step up? Are democracies as relevant and as powerful as they have been?’” Biden said.
On the Atlantic front, Biden told Nato leaders on Monday that the defence of Europe, Turkey and Canada was a “sacred obligation” for the US, a marked shift from Trump’s diminution of the alliance. In a clear sign of a new two-front cold war that pits Moscow and Beijing as twin threats, Biden spoke of them in same breath, saying, “there is a growing recognition over the last couple years that we have new challenges. We have Russia, which is acting in a way that is not consistent with what we had hoped, and we have China.”