Biden hosts Quad leaders at White House
WASHINGTON, Sept 24: President Joe Biden on Friday deepens his bid to cement US leadership of the Indo-Pacific against a rising China with the first in-person summit of the regional Quad group.
Meeting in the White House, Biden and the leaders of Australia, India and Japan will discuss a Covid vaccines drive, regional infrastructure, climate change and securing supply chains for the semiconductors used in computer technology.
While China is not officially on the agenda, the Quad will stress backing for a "free and open Indo-Pacific," a senior US official told reporters. That's a phrase often standing in for ensuring that communist China will not end up dominating the region, including vital international sea lanes.
For Washington, the Quad meeting marks another step to reviving a US focus on diplomatic efforts, following its dramatic exit from the 20-year Afghanistan war.
And "the Biden administration understands that the challenges of the 21st century will largely play out in the Indo-Pacific," a senior administration official, who asked not to be named, said. "We are doubling down on our efforts."
Of three regional groupings that Washington leads in its strategic chess game to manage China's ascent, the Quad is deliberately the most open.
The other two are the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, and the newest arrival on the block -- AUKUS.
AUKUS was only unveiled last week and centers so far on a project for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines using US and British technology. Although it will take years for Australia's navy to actually get the vessels, the announcement sent waves around the world. -AFP