Washington to rally 'symbolic solidarity' at G7, fix ties with allies
‘Mission impossible’ for US to coordinate unified moves to bash China: expert
Published: Jun 10, 2021 12:19 AM
US President Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One on Wednesday at Andrews Air Force Base. Biden is embarking on the first overseas trip of his term, and is eager to reassert the US on the world stage, steadying European allies deeply shaken by his predecessor Donald Trump. Photo: AP

US President Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One on Wednesday at Andrews Air Force Base. Biden is embarking on the first overseas trip of his term, and is eager to reassert the US on the world stage, steadying European allies deeply shaken by his predecessor Donald Trump. Photo: AP

 As US President Joe Biden on Wednesday embarked on an 8-day trip to Europe, "China" and China-related topics, including a reference to the island of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang, are expected to top his agenda, calling for support from Washington's major allies not only in Europe but also in the Asia-Pacific. 

Chinese observers believe that though major Western countries would reach "symbolic solidarity" in forming a so-called united front in bashing China by playing the ideology and values card, fundamental divergences among them on how to get along with China will hinder them from making any substantial move.

Biden's meeting with the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) later this week will usher in a new focus on rallying US allies against common adversaries - the COVID-19, Russia and China, Reuters reported on Tuesday, as the core target of the trip is to advance the fundamental trust of Biden's foreign policy, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan was quoted as saying. The trip, the first overseas one since Biden took office, is an important occasion for the US leader to rebuild ties with its major allies after former US president Donald Trump pulled Washington out of multiple multilateral mechanisms, undermining the relationship with the EU and attacking NATO. 

Biden said that his first foreign trip would demonstrate that Europe and the US are "tight," as he spoke briefly to reporters Wednesday before boarding Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, according to the Washington Post.

Some Western media called the trip "Joe Biden's mission at the G7 summit: to recruit allies for the next Cold War" and to unite "the globe's top democracies to take on China," but chances for the US initiating this so-called next Cold War and how many US allies would follow this initiative remain unknown, and Chinese experts called it a "mission impossible" for the US to persuade major allies and European countries in forming an anti-China bloc after this trip, and pivoting NATO toward China strategically only reflects Washington's anxiety over its declining influence, which won't stop those advanced market democracies from cooperating with China. 

'A strategic, comprehensive threat'

Biden will arrive in Cornwall on Wednesday, where the UK, the host country of this year's G7 summit scheduled from Friday to Sunday, has also invited Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa as guest countries, according to its official agenda. Some Western media consider the summit the West's last chance to lead. Including the Quad four-nation alliance of India, Australia, US and Japan in order to expand the G7 bloc also reflected Washington's attempt to confront China in multiple dimensions, experts said. 

Attending a series of important meetings including G7, NATO summit, US-EU summit and Biden-Putin summit highlights the major focus of the Biden administration's foreign policy. It's obvious that the US has been exaggerating the threat from China to enhance its alliance not only on security but also from a strategic dimension," Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Technically, the G7 summit used to focus on economic issues. However, it has included topics such as the island of Taiwan, Xinjiang and Hong Kong as well as the human rights question into the agenda, signaling that the US is turning the economic summit into a China-bashing chorus, Li said. 

Discussions were underway on including a reference to the island of Taiwan into the joint statement to be issued after the G7 summit, as the US and Japan seek to unite their stance in countering China on the question, Nikkei reported on Tuesday. And the leaders will also talk about China's Xinjiang policy by citing so-called human rights abuses, and the situation in Hong Kong.

Before attending the summit, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison voiced concerns over risks of conflict with China in order to push the G7 to rein in the country, in a speech on Wednesday at the Perth USAsia Centre before he leaving for the G7-plus meeting. Japan's Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Wednesday he hopes to hold talks with Australia's foreign and defense ministers on strengthening bilateral cooperation to raise the two countries' security ties to a new level, while urging "a peaceful resolution" of Taiwan-related issues, according to Reuters. 

Australia, although not a G7 member, serves as one of the pillars of the US Indo-Pacific Strategy which aims at containing China as Morrison was invited to join the meeting of the group's leaders in the UK, Chen Hong, a professor and director of the Australian Studies Center at the East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Though Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will skip the G7 meeting due to the devastating COVID-19 outbreak, Japan and Australia will still help the US counter China in the region, Chen predicted. 

"However, China won't change its stance of defending its core interests and taking countermeasures when necessary. Such collusion just exposes their weakness," Chen said. 

It seems from the G7 foreign ministers meeting in London, the Biden administration has already succeeded in making, at least in word only, some kind of anti-China grouping and has worked with the UK to ensure the joint statement covered Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and the COVID-19, as well as purported 'green alternatives' to the Belt and Road, Tom Fowdy, a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

It means the US makes compromise with its allies to forge a common position, Fowdy said, noting that many of the G7 do not want to take drastic anti-China actions. 

Impossible to rally all

Besides expanding the anti-China chorus by including non-member countries in the G7 club, the US has been trying to mend relations with Europe to tie major European countries to Washington's chariot of countering China. However, some media reports suggested that European leaders have concerns about Biden's hawkish approach toward China as most of them expect balanced ties with Beijing for their own interests. 

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, defended EU efforts to reach the investment deal with China ahead of the G7 summit, calling it as "a huge step in the right direction,"  media reported on Tuesday. 

"The US is trying to fix ties with Europe by waiving sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 project to ease divergences with Germany. But there are still problems between the two sides. Europeans won't allow themselves to be dictated on by the US but to strike a balance amid the US-China rivalry," Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

There are not only divergences between Europe and the US, but also "cracks" in their ties. For example, when the Pentagon began troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, the German military, which maintains a modest contingent in Afghanistan's north, is struggling to meet the US schedule, according to the New York Times. Most recently, Denmark secret service spying on European politicians for the US is widely considered a political scandal, while EU countered Biden's vaccine patent-waiver with a WTO plan.

"Through the upcoming meetings, Europe and the US, along with its allies, will deliver a message of solidarity, but it's highly doubtful they will coordinate anti-China moves on specific issues," Cui said.