US President Joe Biden, as it became known the day before, will receive the Prime Ministers of Au-stralia, India and Japan in Washington on Sept-ember 24. This will be the first face-to-face summit of leaders from countries participating in the Quadripartite Security Dialogue (QUAD). The Quartet, conceived as an informal alliance to contain China, faced a new challenge after the US failure in Afghanistan. The overthrow of the pro-Western government in Kabul dealt a severe blow to the idea of a “free and secure Indo-Pacific.” At the same time, one of the beneficiaries of the geopolitical defeat of the United States was China, which the Taliban who came to power called their main partner.
The diplomatic “autumn marathon”, which started on Tuesday at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, will be developed next week in Washington.
Following a speech at the General Assembly scheduled for September 21, US President Joe Biden will return to the White House, where on September 24 he will host the first-ever face-to-face meeting of the leaders of the four “leading democracies” of the Indo-Pacific region, members of the informal alliance QUAD. The Prime Ministers of Australia, India and Japan – Scott Morrison, Narendra Modi and Yoshihide Suga – who have arrived at the UN General Assembly, are expected to fly from New York to Washington to personally discuss with President Biden the rapidly changing situation in the region. new threats and challenges for QUAD members.
“The leaders of the four countries will focus on promoting practical cooperation in areas such as combating COVID-19, overcoming the climate crisis, partnerships in new technologies and cyberspace, promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region, ”announced the agenda of the upcoming summit on Monday -White House Secretary Jen Psaki.”
According to her, the US administration considers the main task of QUAD to be the mobilization of regional allies and partners to counter the growing influence of China. A White House spokeswoman recalled that this strategic goal, in particular, was dedicated to the recent regional tour of Vice President Kamala Harris, who visited Singapore and Vietnam.
One of the practical steps towards creating a “free and secure” Indo-Pacific region, President Biden considers the development of regional infrastructure that could compete with China’s large-scale One Belt – One Road initiative. For the first time, the head of the White House expressed this idea in March during negotiations with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Meanwhile, after the first virtual QUAD summit, also held in March , dramatic events took place in the world and in the region, which became a shock and a new challenge for the Quartet. The massive pressure of the United States and its allies on China, which continued during the first months of Joe Biden’s rule, did not bring practical results: Beijing demonstrated the ability to take a blow and conduct its counterplay, while inside QUAD, on the contrary, everything is far from being so smooth …
The growing dissatisfaction with the actions of the Japanese government in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic led the head of government, Yoshihide Sugu, to the decision not to participate in the upcoming elections for the chairman of the country’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, that is, to resign from his current post. The upcoming trip to the United States and the QUAD summit will be goodbye for Mr. Sugi: he will leave his post at the end of September, having served as prime minister for only a year, and Japan will face new uncertainty caused by the impending change of leadership. Recall that Yoshihide Suga became the first foreign leader with whom President Biden held a face-to-face meeting – this happened in April this year.
Unlike his Japanese counterpart, another participant in the Washington QUAD summit – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – has a strong position within the country and is out of competition in the political field, but not retreating, despite the massive vaccination of the population, the coronavirus pandemic has already caused serious damage to the Indian economy, and so far it has not been possible to turn the tide.
However, the main challenge for the United States and its allies and partners in QUAD, which in the spring proclaimed their strategic goal “to strengthen an order based on international law”, was the events in Afghanistan.
Numerous statements by American officials that ending the longest war in Afghanistan will allow the Biden administration to focus on solving problems related to China do not sound too convincing to other regional players.
Allies and partners view the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan as a flight. The rapid fall of the pro-American regime of President Ashraf Ghani, which Washington suddenly refused to support, and the coming to power in Kabul of the banned Taliban movement in Kabul dealt a severe blow to the reputation of President Biden and America in general, calling into question the ability of the United States to respond to international security crises and be a reliable, predictable ally. In addition, the beginning of the transformation of Afghanistan into a de facto protectorate of Pakistan and the formation of a new Afghan government, whose key figures have created serious problems for this country, which QUAD cannot ignore.
“The failure caused by Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan made encirclement of India more dangerous for this country and raised legitimate questions from Japan and Australia, so the QUAD summit will be very timely. We must restore and renew key alliances, this task is becoming the main one, “- wrote on Twitter on the eve of the meeting of the Quartet, Republican Senator Bill Hagerty, who served as US Ambassador to Japan from 2017 to 2019.
At the same time, the upcoming QUAD summit will become a moment of truth for its participants, given that China has become one of the main beneficiaries of the US geopolitical defeat in Afghanistan, in addition to Pakistan.
On the eve of the meeting in Washington, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid called China the “main international partner” of the new Afghan authorities, saying that Beijing is “ready to invest and rebuild” Afghanistan. He also expressed his admiration for the Chinese integration project “One Belt – One Road”, which QUAD actively opposes, thereby reminding that the task of containing China is becoming more and more difficult for the “four” countries of the Indo-Pacific region.