President Joe Biden’s scheduled travels to Papua New Guinea (PNG) along with Australia, which was supposed to have occurred the following week on the way back home from the Group of Seven (G7) meeting in Hiroshima, Japan, had been called off by the White House.
The cancellation alarmed analysts who worried Biden was wasting crucial credibility within the Indo-Pacific area. It was purportedly required so that Biden could travel to Washington to engage in debt limit discussions.
The initial itinerary called for Biden to leave on Wednesday, attend the G7 meeting in Hiroshima from Friday through Sunday, and then make stops in Sydney, Australia, and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG), before returning to the United States.
Biden was scheduled to attend a summit of the Quadrilateral Strategic Dialogue, often known as “the Quad,” a strategic partnership involving the United States, Japan, India, and Australia. In addition to a meeting with the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum in Port Moresby, which is a group that includes PNG, various island countries, together with Australia and New Zealand.
In fact, PNG designated Monday a national holiday in celebration of Biden’s visit, which was seen as a significant gesture against China’s expanding influence in the area. Instead, Biden’s cancellation provided Beijing with a diplomatic bonanza, bolstering its narrative of a collapsing United States that no longer has the ability to exert meaningful diplomatic or economic influence.
“Turning up is the catchphrase in the area. Half of the fight is showing up. The optics aren’t ideal since China keeps popping up,” senior fellow Richard Maude of the Asia Society Policy Institute told Reuters.
“This was actually a very huge deal for Papua New Guinea, and they will certainly be disappointed,” stated Mihai Sora, a Pacific Islands expert at the Lowy Institute.
Sora said that Biden’s cancelation proved to be a “blow to the U.S. credibility within the region as a continuous partner” and expressed concern that Pacific Island leaders could cease “giving the United States the benefit of the doubt regarding its capacity to re-engage.”
“There is no doubt that the leaders of the Pacific Islands along with the Quad, especially Australia, and PNG, are disappointed by this. Voice of America News (VOA) spoke with Daniel Russel of the Asia Society Policy Institute this week. “It will be perceived in the region to be a self-induced wound resulting from political division in Washington that doesn’t reflect well on America’s dependability as a partner.”
Author: Scott Dowdy