President Biden, with a strong foreign policy portfolio and a meager record on domestic policy during his half century-long career as a public servant, seems more eager to capitalize on his art of global diplomacy and reclaim US leadership based on securing American dominance in the Indo-Pacific than putting his own house in order. One is left with the impression that he has been brushing many domestic problems aside in a rush to push and grab the gavel of global leadership, which Trump abandoned. As a result, the US and the rest of the world are now on shakier grounds than before in the Bidenian manner, if not the Trumpian manner. To Biden, the biggest obstacle to the US’ road back to its global leadership is China, while the biggest challenge to his presidential power at home is Trump and Trumpism. However, Biden seems to have been ineffective in dealing with Trump and Trumpism. To earn him and his party credits and credibility at home, he seems to have been tending to contain China by using his art of global alliance diplomacy rather than trying to solve real domestic problems in a serious manner. His international trip to Europe is predated and thus emboldened and protected by QUAD, a regional security framework for the Indo-Pacific region which President Biden cemented soon after his inauguration and ARC 21, a multilateral maritime military exercise conducted by the US, Japan, France, and Australia in the East China Sea between May 11-17, 2021. Adding the UK’s launch of the Carrier Strike Group joined by Netherlands on May 21, 2021 as US’ “response to the rise of China” and a potential launch of the aircraft carriers by India as member state of QUAD. Reportedly, Germany, wooed by Japan, will also participate in the military exercises in the Indo-Pacific. Italy is likely to be the only G7 member country which will not join the US-led Indo-Pacific security framework despite the lure from India. Added together, a total of at least eight nation-states headed by the US are gathering and patrolling a total of seven aircraft carriers in the Indo-Pacific Oceans in the span of the next few months or even as long as a year. The Indo-Pacific Oceans are typically viewed as the backyard of China and India, the two largest countries in terms of population both in Asia and the world. With “armed supremacy”, their target is China, and perhaps implicitly and potentially India in the longer future. Their goal is to “advance the US vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific”.
Ambitious Agenda of Biden’s First International Trip as President
On June 4, 2021, the Center for New American Security presented a panel titled “Special Event: President Biden’s First International Trip: Views from the National Security Council”. It offers a preview of President Biden’s top diplomatic agenda during his eight-day visit of Europe between June 9 and June 16, 2021. According to the three-member team from the NSC, led by Daleep Singh, Deputy Security Advisor, Biden’s top diplomatic agenda items can be summarized as five Cs: COVID, China, Climate, Cybersecurity, and Corruption. Biden’s European trip will be highlighted by his attendance of four summits as follows: the G7 Summit, which will also be attended by Australia, Korea, and India (in absentia) as special guests and QUAD members, the EU Summit, the NATO Summit, and a Biden-Putin Summit. Other highlights include Bidens’ meetings with Queen Elizabeth, Turkish president Erdogan, and Swiss President Parmelin. Of course, Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with each head of state of every member state of G7 on top of the G7 Summit itself as well as with the heads of state of QUAD member states, such as Australia and possibly a non-QUAD member state such as Korea. Due to the pandemic of COVID overwhelming India, Prime Minister Modi will not attend G7 Summit in person. As President Biden and his top diplomatic aides, including Secretary of State Tony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, are all noted Atlanticists, Biden’s one full year’s diplomatic agenda items, all ambitiously wrapped up in one week, appear to be deliverable with a big bang. Biden has been also reportedly proposing a green alternative to China’s Belt & Road Initiative. He not only vows to prevent China from becoming the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world, but he also vows to exclude China from participating in the making of the rules of the new world order.
Does Biden’s Diplomacy Serve Middle-Class Interests?
However, it is evident that President Biden does not seem to be building his global alliance of democracy by containing China and Russia from “the position of strength”, at least not yet. Domestically, the US does not appear to be stable, let alone strong. While COVID has been managed effectively, the political, social, and cultural divisions in the US remain as large as before his presidential inauguration and have not been dealt with effectively during the first five months of his presidency. An attempt to establish a bipartisan investigation commission on January 6 Capitol Insurrection has failed. Hate crimes and incidents of gun violence occur too frequently, even in middle-class neighborhoods and on highways, with a reported total of more than 8000 deaths so far this year. This does not include the growing pandemic of suicides and depression, especially among high school and college students in the US due to COVID-related stressors. More fear and hate are still being fanned and channeled against Asians in America and China by politicians such as Trump, Josh Hawley, and even Biden himself with his antagonistic remarks against China, some special interest groups, and some mainstream media. Furthermore, the façade of the economic recovery made possible by printing several trillion USD is sinking the US much deeper into debt and causing the world fall into deeper despair. To make things worse, US trade tariffs against foreign countries such as China, including at least several G7 member countries, have still not been lifted. The US’ technology war against China is still raging on. As a result of all such wars, not only the US and China are bleeding economically, but the world economy is faltering, too. All these are turning President Biden’s middle-class diplomacy into lip service. It is unfortunate that Biden’s top concern is to contain or topple China in order to achieve the US' “armed supremacy” in the Indo-Pacific, Europe, and the rest of the world while middle class America and most of the people of the world prefer a noncombative means for a more peaceful and prosperous world.
Biden Should not Weaponize G7 to Contain China and Divide the World
It appears that President Biden and Prime Minister Johnson are turning G7 Summit in Cornwall UK into G7+QUAD with their main target against China. It is very much hoped that President Biden will make his foreign policy goals compatible with the peaceful needs and wants of most Americans and a growing Asian middle class and a growing global middle class, be less confrontational against China in formulating his diplomatic strategy during his European trip. So far as I know, China vows to play its rightful part in the creation of rules of the new world order despite the efforts of exclusion and will not blink and back down under Biden’s extreme pressure tactics. Also, China is turning its Belt & Road Initiative green with the support of UN’s International Green Development Coalition (BRIGC). So, there is no need to create a green alternative by G7. This way, many countries, including G7 member countries such as Italy, do not feel forced to choose between the two. If President Biden is serious about his public expression to cooperate with China on climate change, the US should join in further greening the Belt & Road Initiative.
In conclusion, the upcoming G7 Summit headed by President Biden and chaired by Johnson should not be weaponized to exclude China and divide the world. It should be a bridge towards a more inclusive and dialogic G-20 in Rome Italy on October 30 and 31st, 2021. Its theme consists of three interrelated pillars of action: People, Planet, and Prosperity. The G7 Summit to be held in Cornwall UK June 11-13, 2021 should be in alignment with G20 Summit in Rome, not lead astray or against it.