Analysts say U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to postpone a trip to Australia is a major blow to Canberra. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will still make the trip to Australia next week, even though the Quad leaders’ summit at the Sydney Opera House has been canceled.
The White House says U.S. President Joe Biden has postponed his planned trip to Australia because of domestic debt ceiling negotiations.
Biden will, however, travel to Japan for a meeting of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations, which Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will also attend, along with Japan’s Fumio Kishida and India’s Narendra Modi.
Albanese told reporters Wednesday that the leaders of the Quad security dialogue, including the United States, Australia, Japan and India, will meet for talks on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan.
“President Biden, though, indicated that he was very much looking forward to coming down at a future date when it can be arranged and I will visit the United States for a state visit later this year. All four leaders; President Biden, Prime Minister Kishida, Prime Minister Modi and myself will be at the G-7 head in Hiroshima,” he said.
The Quad summit in Sydney was to have been the first to be held in Australia.
It has now been postponed indefinitely. Analysts say the cancellation harms the grouping’s ambitions to be an influential alternative to China. They also insist it damages the reputation of the United States as a reliable ally at a time when strategic competition with China in the Indo-Pacific region is intensifying.
Ian Hall is a professor of International Relations at the Griffith Asia Institute at Griffith University. He told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. cancellation of the summit will harm the Quad’s reputation.
“The Quad’s work is going on. Officials are beavering away on Quad business all the time. But these kinds of focal points, these sorts of summits are important. They are good for, kind of, articulating what the Quad is all about, what the Quad is going to do, what its intentions are. In that sense, not having this summit I think is problematic, or at least postponing this summit is problematic,” he said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains committed to traveling to Australia next week for his first trip since 2014, but his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida is reportedly unlikely to travel.
Biden has also abandoned plans for a historic visit to Papua New Guinea, where he would have signed a security accord with Prime Minister James Marape.
Beijing has been critical of the Quad grouping, describing it as an “exclusive clique.”
However, despite Australia’s enthusiasm for the four-nation alliance, there are signs its recent trade and diplomatic tensions with China are continuing to ease.
Also, China’s ambassador to Canberra, Xiao Qian, said Thursday that Beijing will resume imports of Australian timber.