Biden's White House meeting with leaders from Australia, Japan, and India gives him an opportunity to shine a spotlight on his central goal of foreign policy: focusing more attention on the Pacific in light of China's coercive economic policies and disturbing military maneuverings in the region. Climate, COVID-19 and cyber security are expected to be the main topics of their talks.
The Japanese and Indian governments were happy to hear that the U.S. would provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines as part of an alliance with Australia and Britain.
This move will enable Australia to conduct more patrols and gives it an advantage over the Chinese navy. France was furious at the Biden administration's announcement, accusing it of sabotaging its $66 billion agreement to supply diesel-powered submarines.
After the leaders spoke Wednesday, tensions between Biden & Macron were eased and they agreed to work together in the Indo-Pacific.
Michael Green was the senior director for Asia at U.S. Security Council under George W. Bush. He said that Japan and India welcomed the U.S./U.K./Australian alliance because it would "reset the trajectories of naval power in the Pacific" and, from the point of view of these countries, stabilize the situation as China builds up its naval force.
Beijing has reacted strongly to the alliance. Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry, called it "outdated Cold War zero sum mentality and narrow-minded Geopolitical Perception" that would increase regional arms races.
Beijing also wants to promote the idea that the creation of the alliance means the U.S. will favor Australia within the Quad at India's expense, according to Bonny Lin, senior fellow for Asian Security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington.
Beijing has also sought to undermine the Quad by portraying members of the Quad in a negative light, claiming that they are out of step with the rest of southeast Asia. Lin stated that pawns are not welcome in the Quad.
As China continues to show its force in the region, the White House meeting with the group is taking place.
China sent 24 fighter jets towards Taiwanon Thursday after Taiwan announced its intention to join the Pacific trade group, The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (which China also applied for).
Biden's meeting in Indo-Pacific with leaders caps a busy week for diplomacy. He addressed the U.N. General Assembly and was the host of a virtual global summit to combat COVID-19.
Biden and other leaders from wealthy countries were criticised for slowing global vaccinations and inequity between those living in wealther and less fortunate nations. Biden's announcement that the U.S. would double to 1 Billion doses of Pfizer vaccine for sharing with the world was met with resistance from low- and moderate-income leaders.
Biden will also meet with Indian Prime Minister NarendraModi and Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese Prime Minister.
According to an Indian official familiar with Modi's agenda, Modi met with Kamala Harris, Vice President, on Thursday. They are expected to discuss with Biden how to move forward with the Taliban government. The individual was not authorized to speak publicly.
Modi will likely raise objections to Taliban's attempt to be recognized at the United Nations. Modi's government is also concerned about Pakistan's influence on how the Taliban factions divvied up Kabul's government offices.
The Taliban used to control Afghanistan. They also supported militants in Kashmir. Kashmir is a long-disputed territory that has been at the heart of skirmishes and wars between India, Pakistan, and India. In 2008 and 2009, suicide bombers attacked India's Embassy in Mumbai. The Taliban government has given top positions to members of the Haqani network, which America has declared a terrorist organization.
Modi made a brief appearance in front of reporters before Harris' meeting. He credited the Biden administration for making progress on climate change and COVID-19.
He said, "You assumed the leadership of the United States during a very difficult atmosphere and challenging times. But within a very short time, you have many achievements to your credit. The United States has taken important steps on all of these issues.
According to a foreign ministry official, who was not authorized and spoke under anonymity, Suga was expected to raise China and North Korea, Afghanistan and COVID-19 response, climate change and North Korea in his one-on-1 with Biden.
North Korea claimed last week that it had successfully launched ballistic missiles from its train, hitting a target in the ocean 800 km (500 miles) away.
The North had earlier this month announced that it tested new cruise missiles. These can strike targets up to 1,500 km (930 miles) from the North, making it nuclear-capable. This distance puts all U.S. military installations and Japan within striking distance.