US President Joe Biden has been repeating this from the beginning: his foreign policy priority is China, and while the current focus is on Ukraine due to the Russian invasion, his administration is trying to turn its attention to Asia.
The Democratic administration is preparing a series of dates to show that it has not lost sight of its goals, even if the Ukrainian war continues.
Next Thursday and Friday, Biden receives the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Washington to reaffirm US interests in the region, which is the scene of tensions with Beijing.
A week later, she will travel to Japan and South Korea. In Tokyo, she will also participate in a summit with the leaders of the “Quad”, an alliance of four countries (Australia, India, Japan and the United States) to counter China’s ambitions.
The visit will allow Biden, who travels abroad only on very specific occasions, to meet face-to-face with his key allies in the Asia-Pacific region.
His secretary of state, Antony Blinken, will soon deliver an important speech on US foreign policy towards China, which was delayed last week after he was diagnosed with covid-19.
The shadow of the Russian invasion, however, will follow over all these encounters, but Biden’s team hopes to get away from it.
At the ASEAN summit, “the war in Ukraine will be a topic of debate, but also an opportunity to talk about security in the region,” commented White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
In addition, Psaki mentioned the Covid-19 pandemic and North Korea, which is at risk of returning to a priority for the United States due to fears of an imminent new nuclear test by Pyongyang, after a moratorium of almost five years.
The relationship with China has been a challenge for successive American governments, which are trying to adapt to the economic and technological rise of the Asian giant, as well as Beijing’s internal political hardening and its growing appetite on the international stage.
Former Democratic President Barack Obama had already defined Asia as a priority for US foreign policy, with the aim of breaking away from the Middle East and its long and costly wars.
However, this change has not been easy: Obama himself had to mobilize troops in Iraq to counter the Islamic State (IS) jihadist organization, and now Biden faces one of the most serious crises in Europe since the Second World War.
Source: With Agencies