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The Quad Comes to Washington

The summit caps off a round of Asia-focused diplomacy for the White House and includes one-on-one meetings with the leaders of India and Japan.

By , the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy.
A monitor displaying a virtual meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with U.S. President Joe Biden (clockwise from top left), Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is seen from Suga's official residence in Tokyo on March 12.
A monitor displaying a virtual meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with U.S. President Joe Biden (clockwise from top left), Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is seen from Suga's official residence in Tokyo on March 12. Kiyoshi Ota/Pool/AFP

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Quad leaders meet in Washington, a top U.S. diplomat resigns in protest of Biden’s Haitian deportation policy, and the Chinese property giant Evergrande appears to miss a key interest payment, spooking markets.

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Biden Assembles the Quad

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Quad leaders meet in Washington, a top U.S. diplomat resigns in protest of Biden’s Haitian deportation policy, and the Chinese property giant Evergrande appears to miss a key interest payment, spooking markets.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Biden Assembles the Quad

U.S. President Joe Biden is on a mission to project an image of unity and cohesion with three of the world’s largest economies as he hosts the leaders of Australia, India, and Japan for a meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue—the Quad—at the White House on Friday.

The summit, the first in-person gathering for the group since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, caps off a busy few days of Asia-focused diplomacy for the White House following the agreement of the AUKUS defense pact with Australia and the United Kingdom last week. That focus is underlined by additional one-on-one meetings Biden holds Friday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, a senior Biden administration official was keen to position the Quad within a “larger fabric of engagement” with the so-called Indo-Pacific region and played down any military intentions for the group.

The summit is expected to conclude with the announcement of several initiatives designed to deepen relations among the four countries, including student exchanges alongside plans to counter China’s domination of key industries like semiconductors and 5G networks.

China’s reaction to the meeting has echoed the tone it took with AUKUS. Asked about the Quad summit last week, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian decried “exclusive ‘cliques’ targeting other countries” and said the group was “doomed to fail.”

Another dose? The Quad leaders will also be under pressure to deliver on vaccines after an initial agreement to provide 1 billion doses to Asian countries in March fell victim to India’s record COVID-19 surge weeks later, which led to a freeze on vaccine exports. New Delhi’s announcement this week that it would restart exports by the end of the year makes a new vaccine declaration likely.

Any boost to Asia’s vaccine access would be welcome, as the continent trails Europe as well as North and South America in vaccine doses, with 87 doses administered per 100 people compared with 97 per 100 in South America and 102 and 104 per 100 in North America and Europe, respectively. It’s still far ahead of Africa, where only 10 doses per 100 people have been administered.

So long, Suga. Although three of the four Quad leaders can expect to meet again soon, it’s the end of the line for the Japanese prime minister, who has decided against leading his party into new elections, likely to take place in November. The race to succeed Suga is itself a four-way affair, with Vaccines Minister Taro Kono and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida the leading candidates ahead of a Sept. 29 party vote.

India’s role. New Delhi’s slow embrace of Washington, though not formal allies, reflects new regional realities, C. Raja Mohan writes in Foreign Policy: “India’s presence in the Quad is the clearest affirmation that the problem in the East is about something else: the Chinese quest for hegemony driven by a massive power imbalance with its Asian neighbors.”


What We’re Following Today

Global climate strike. Hundreds of thousands of young people across the world are expected to participate Friday in a global student strike to protest inaction on tackling climate change. The strike, organized by Fridays for Future, an activist organization founded by the climate activist Greta Thunberg, is likely to have its highest turnout in Germany, where 400 separate events are planned. The protests are likely to resonate with the German public before Sunday’s election, with a recent survey finding climate change as the most important political problem facing the country.

U.S. Haiti official resigns. The U.S. special envoy to Haiti resigned Thursday in protest of the Biden administration’s decision to deport hundreds of Haitian migrants who had crossed the southern U.S. border in recent days. Daniel Foote, who was appointed to the position following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in July, said in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that he did not wish to be “associated with the United States’ inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants.” Foote also criticized U.S. support for Prime Minister Ariel Henry and described U.S. intentions to “pick the winner” in Haiti’s political turmoil as “hubris.”

Evergrande’s missed payment. The Chinese property giant Evergrande appeared to miss a deadline to pay interest on part of its mammoth debt on Thursday, prompting fears that the company could soon default and causing ripple effects across the global financial system. Writing in Wednesday’s China Brief, FP’s James Palmer outlined the tricky politics at play for Chinese authorities. “The company appears to be doomed,” Palmer writes. “The question that remains is how much of the Chinese economy it will take down with it and whether its fate is a symptom of much bigger problems.”


Keep an Eye On

Inter-Korean relations. North Korea has again rejected a call for a formal end to the Korean War, which ended with an armistice agreement in 1953. South Korean President Moon Jae-in made the overture in his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, but on Friday, North Korea’s vice foreign minister, Ri Thae Song, said any talk of a peace treaty would be premature so long as “the U.S. hostile policy is not shifted.”

North Korea has so far ignored U.S. negotiation efforts, although Moon speculated that the country “is still weighing options while keeping the door open for talks,” citing the relatively low-level provocations Pyongyang has tried since Biden became president.

Iceland’s election. Iceland votes on Saturday in parliamentary elections, and polls point to a murky outcome, with no party likely to win more than one-fifth of the public’s support and nine parties expected to win seats. Even a three-party coalition may not be mathematically viable, so an unprecedented—and unstable—four-party coalition is likely.


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Odds and Ends

Concacaf, the soccer governing body for North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, has launched an investigation into Surinamese Vice President Ronnie Brunswijk after his actions following a professional match between the club he owns, Inter Moengotapoe, and C.D. Olimpia of Honduras. The 60-year-old made the unusual decision to name himself in the starting lineup for the game (as captain, in the stadium that already bears his name), lasting until early in the second half before he was replaced by his son Damian. Brunswijk’s intervention was not enough to save Inter. The club lost 6-0.

Concacaf is less concerned about Brunswijk’s antics on the field as they are off it, as videos soon emerged of the vice president handing out wads of cash to the opposition players after the match had ended. Match fixing may soon be added to Brunswijk’s charge sheet, which already includes a six-year sentence from a Dutch court for drug smuggling.

Colm Quinn is the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @colmfquinn

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