After the announcement of a spectacular military alliance in the Indo-Pacific zone, Joe Biden continued to advance his pawns in the region but in a more “informal” format, receiving on Friday the Prime Ministers of India, Japan and from Australia.
The American president, in search of alliances with China, wants to revive this diplomatic format, called “Quad”.
After a virtual summit in March, he therefore brought it together again, for the first time in person and at such a high level.
From the White House, Scott Morrison (Australia) and Yoshihide Suga (Japan) welcomed this meeting which according to them aims to promote “a free and open Indo-Pacific region”, the formula used to criticize, without naming it, China and its ambitions in the area.
Narendra Modi (India) insisted on the “shared democratic values” of the four partners.
“We are four top-notch democracies, with a long history of cooperation, we know how to get things done,” host Joe Biden said.
Outlined after the devastating tsunami of 2004 and formalized in 2007, the “Quadrilateral Security Dialogue” has long been sleepy.
– “Pivot” –
By reviving it, Joe Biden is in a way pursuing the “pivot towards Asia” of American foreign policy, already dear to Barack Obama.
But after the spectacular announcement of AUKUS ‘military partnership with the United Kingdom and Australia – and of its submarine contract which has enraged France – Washington wants to present the “Quad” in a consensual light.
It is an “informal” and “intimate” cenacle intended to “develop better channels of communication,” senior White House officials said in an interview with reporters.
There is no “military” aim, they insisted, assuring that the “Quad” would be “complementary” to other regional initiatives, in response to a question on its articulation with ASEAN.
Some members of this organization, which brings together ten Southeast Asian nations, fear that the American offensive in the region will lead to an escalation with China.
Scott Morrison assured the press that the members of the “Quad” were ready to face “any pressure which would affect any of us”, adding: “We want all the countries of Indo -Pacific have this opportunity “because they” attach importance to their sovereignty “.
– Semiconductors, vaccines, climate –
On Friday, the “Quad” spoke of economic and environmental projects and the fight against the pandemic.
The four partners want to launch an initiative to protect supplies of semiconductors, these electronic components essential for both washing machines and airplanes or smartphones, which many manufacturers around the world are struggling to obtain today.
They also heard talk, in bulk, about 5G, cybersecurity, university exchanges, projects in space, fishing, vaccines …
“For Washington, the challenge is to go beyond the single security paradigm and significantly improve America’s economic position in Southeast Asia,” said Jonathan Stromseth, a specialist in the region, in a note published by the institute. brookings think tank.
He believes that the effort to revive the “Quad” is “emblematic” of “the Biden administration’s approach to China, presented as competitive when necessary, cooperative when possible, and confrontational. when it’s necessary.”
Joe Biden, if he has kept a hard line against China, more or less comparable to that of Donald Trump, approaches the confrontation with Beijing differently.
The American president, who wants to go beyond the only face-to-face meeting between the two super-powers, hopes to revive the game of alliances, and to encourage his traditional partners to take frank positions vis-à-vis China.