Quad Summit in Sydney Canceled as Biden Pulls Out, Discussions to Take Place in Japan

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The planned Quad summit, which was scheduled to take place in Sydney next week, has been canceled after US President Joe Biden withdrew his visit, according to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. However, discussions among Quad leaders from the United States, India, Australia, and Japan may still proceed during their visits to Japan.

The summit, an informal security dialogue, was considered a response to China’s aggressive stance in the region. Biden’s cancellation of the visit, including a planned stopover in Papua New Guinea, comes as the United States aims to strengthen its security ties in the Pacific amidst increasing competition with Beijing.

Biden had intended to attend the summit in Sydney as part of his weeklong Asia tour, which was set to commence with a Group of Seven (G7) leader summit in Hiroshima, Japan. However, he canceled the additional legs of the trip due to ongoing debt ceiling negotiations in Washington.

While Biden will still travel to Japan starting this week, the Quad leaders will have discussions in Japan instead of Sydney. Albanese stated that the Quad is an important forum, and talks at the leadership level will take place over the weekend, although no specific time has been confirmed.

The Quad, formally known as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, was established over 15 years ago but has gained increased prominence in recent years. The leaders were expected to discuss deepening cooperation on various issues, including critical and emerging technologies, climate change, and maritime domain awareness.

Although the Quad summit in Sydney has been canceled, Albanese hinted at Biden’s frustration with the events unfolding in Washington. Biden expressed disappointment at the actions of certain members of Congress and the Senate during his phone conversation with Albanese, citing their behavior as detrimental to the interests of the United States and the global economy.

The cancellation of the Quad meeting in Sydney and the Papua New Guinea visit has implications for the United States’ engagement in the Indo-Pacific region. The region has become more strategically significant as China displays assertiveness in territorial disputes, naval expansion, and militarization of islands in the South China Sea. Beijing has also increased military intimidation of Taiwan.

The cancellation of the Papua New Guinea visit, in particular, could have broader consequences for US policy toward the Pacific Islands. While the Quad’s momentum may not be significantly affected by the cancellation, the missed opportunity to engage with Papua New Guinea may reinforce the perception that the United States is an unreliable long-term partner, potentially strengthening China’s influence in the region.

Despite the change in plans, the discussions among Quad leaders in Japan will provide an opportunity to further their collaboration on regional security issues and reaffirm their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.