Biden's planned Asia-Pacific trip is a pretty big deal
U.S. President Joe Biden. /Getty
U.S. President Joe Biden. /Getty

U.S. President Joe Biden. /Getty

Editor's note: Andrew Korybko is a Moscow-based American political analyst. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily those of CGTN.

U.S. President Joe Biden plans to travel to Japan this week to attend the G7 Leaders' Summit, after which he'll make a pitstop in Papua New Guinea's capital of Port Moresby prior to traveling to Australia for the Quad Leaders' Summit. His agenda could be unexpectedly disrupted in the event that a debt-limit deal is near, he cautioned, in which case he'll either remain in the U.S. or travel back there as events require. It therefore shouldn't be taken for granted that everything will unfold as planned.

Should it all proceed according to schedule, however, then Biden's planned Asia-Pacific trip can be considered a pretty big deal since it signals that he's carrying through on his campaign promise that "America is back" after his election. Some U.S. policymakers wrongly thought that former President Donald Trump isolated their country from the region, but the reality is that he actually set the stage for the aggressive policy that his successor is actively promulgating against China. 

Whereas Trump attempted to "contain" China through mostly economic means, ergo the interconnected trade and tech wars that he unilaterally initiated, Biden is seeking to do so more comprehensively by expanding this campaign to include institutional and military means too. He hopes to build upon his predecessor's prior aggression during the upcoming G7 Leaders' Summit, which could see the U.S. leading that group in threatening sanctions against China if it's accused of "arming Russia."

Beijing has repeatedly denied ever having any such intent and continually describes that scenario as fake news, yet it continues to be weaponized by America and some of its European allies to pressure China in parallel with smearing its international reputation. There's also the chance that the U.S. will propose some measures that amount to strengthening protectionism between these countries and China, albeit possibly sold on the false pretext of supporting the so-called rules-based order or containing Russia.

Moving along to Papua New Guinea, its Foreign Minister confirmed that Biden will sign a newly finalized Defense Cooperation Agreement that'll result in the U.S. Coast Guard patrolling its exclusive economic zone. This complements the recently agreed security pact between that country and Australia, with both developments being traced back to the joint 2018 deal between Canberra and Washington to develop the Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island.

In light of AUKUS' creation in late 2021, the argument can be made that Australia's latest pact with Papua New Guinea and the one that Biden is expected to sign on behalf of the U.S. during his trip there represent those two's efforts to place that country under their "sphere of influence." To be clear, it's still independent and retains mutually beneficial relations with China, but it's difficult to deny that America and Australia's military and security moves appear driven by anti-Chinese motivations.

A policeman patrols past the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan, May 14, 2023, just days ahead of the arrival of leaders for the G7 Leaders' Summit. /CFP
A policeman patrols past the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan, May 14, 2023, just days ahead of the arrival of leaders for the G7 Leaders' Summit. /CFP

A policeman patrols past the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan, May 14, 2023, just days ahead of the arrival of leaders for the G7 Leaders' Summit. /CFP

The aforesaid will likely be more fully on display during the Quad Leaders' Summit that the latter is hosting in Sydney on the final leg of Biden's regional tour. India still retains its strategic autonomy in spite of growing full-spectrum ties with the West as evidenced by its defiance of their demands to distance itself from Russia.

It can therefore be expected that Biden will saber-rattle against China most explicitly at that event compared to whatever he says or implies against it at the G7 Leaders' Summit in Japan and during his pitstop in Papua New Guinea. Taken together and remembering how the U.S.'s zero-sum mindset makes it obsessed with attempting to "contain" China at every opportunity, it can thus be concluded that Biden's planned Asia-Pacific trip is indeed a pretty big deal.

Nevertheless, it shouldn't automatically be assumed that intentions will result in desired outcomes, since the case can be made that the U.S. won't succeed in "containing" China, no matter how hard it tries. Some of the G7's European countries are reluctant to risk their economic stability by complying with any of the U.S.'s possible demands to distance themselves from China, no matter the pretext that it might employ to convince them to do so.

As for Papua New Guinea, the U.S. Coast Guard's planned patrols of its exclusive economic zone have nothing to do with China since China doesn't pose any security threat to that country. While it's true that some American and Australian commentators might claim that this move is a response to April 2022's security deal between China and the Solomon Islands, the fact is that they're completely separate developments.

Concerning the Quad, India's commitment to remaining strategically autonomous is expected to result in it being loath to endorse any of Biden's overtly anti-Chinese rhetoric and whatever related clauses the U.S. might seek to insert into their joint statement. With this insight in mind, while Biden might imagine that he's making good on his campaign promise that "America is back" after Trump, he's just making the same mistakes by not learning from his predecessor that it's impossible to "contain" China.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

Search Trends