WASHINGTON — President Biden plans to host the leaders of Southeast Asian nations on the White House on Thursday and Friday, delivering a message of solidarity — and aiming to present a bulwark towards Chinese affect within the area — even as a lot of his administration stays centered on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The two-day summit will cowl an array of subjects together with commerce, human rights and local weather change, however additionally it is a part of an effort by Mr. Biden’s overseas coverage group to spotlight one of many president’s major targets: assembling a united entrance towards China as it more and more demonstrates its financial and army may all over the world.
As a candidate, Mr. Biden promised to make China a central focus of his overseas coverage. Instead, a senior administration official acknowledged to reporters on Wednesday that the conflict in Europe had created day by day calls for that had consumed the time and power of the president and his group.
But the official, who requested anonymity to focus on preparations for the summit, mentioned Mr. Biden remained involved about, and centered on, the necessity to stop China from dominating the Indo-Pacific. The gathering of 10 world leaders in Washington for 2 days is a chance to exhibit that dedication, the official mentioned.
Mr. Biden can be touring to Japan and South Korea from May 20 to May 24, a visit that can focus largely on China. White House officers haven’t supplied particulars in regards to the journey, however he’s anticipated to meet with fellow leaders of the opposite so-called Quad nations: India, Japan and Australia.
On Thursday, the leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will meet with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and different lawmakers earlier than gathering at a Washington resort to focus on enterprise alternatives with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and executives from American industries. Mr. Biden plans to host the leaders for what the administration official mentioned can be an intimate dinner on the White House on Thursday night.
On Friday, the Asian leaders will meet with Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken within the morning, after which with Mr. Biden on the White House later within the day.
According to the administration official, the group will focus on buying and selling alternatives, transit by way of disputed waterways, together with the South China Sea, and different subjects.
One of them is probably going to be Myanmar, one of many group’s members, the place Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was ousted as the nation’s civilian chief final yr when the army staged a coup. The administration official mentioned the United States and nations within the area had been centered on the scenario, and annoyed by it.
He mentioned the planners of Thursday’s summit had been contemplating putting an empty chair within the room the place the leaders had been assembly to register their disapproval.
The summit can even be a chance for Ms. Harris to exhibit her deal with the area. She led an American delegation to Asia final summer time, utilizing a speech in Singapore to denounce China’s “unlawful claims” over the South China Sea, which she mentioned “undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations.”
The administration official mentioned Ms. Harris deliberate to use Friday’s assembly with the Asian leaders to focus extra straight on local weather motion, clear power and sustainable infrastructure.