The abbreviated trip heightened the fundamental tensions shaping the Biden presidency.
HIROSHIMA, Japan — President Joe Biden sought to rally regional cooperation against China on the brink Group of Seven Summit Saturday, with Washington deadlocked over how to ensure the US avoids default.
Hoping to avert an outcome that would shake the global economy and prove a boon for Beijing, Biden began his third day in Japan at the annual meeting of the world’s most powerful democracies with a staff briefing on the latest bouts and the beginnings of a showdown over how raise the federal debt limit.
On Saturday, the president also took part in meetings aimed at challenging China’s rise in the Indo-Pacific region, including with the so-called Quad partnership of the US, Australia, Japan and India.
It was originally planned that the members of the Quad see you in sydney next weekbut postponed their meeting on the sidelines of the G7 to allow Biden to return to Washington earlier on Sunday in hopes of finalizing a debt ceiling deal before the US runs out of money to pay its bills.
The a shortened trip has heightened a fundamental tension shaping Biden’s presidency: As he tries to convey to the world that the US is reclaiming the mantle of global leadership, domestic dramas continue to get in the way at key moments.
The president largely stayed out of the public eye at the summit, refraining from making high-profile public statements and leaving Friday’s leaders’ dinner early. Instead, he spent time in front of a video monitor in a room next to his hotel room, where aides in Washington kept him updated on the debt-limit negotiations.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan acknowledged that world leaders have been pressuring Biden to confront the debt limit in Washington. But spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said that while there was much interest in how the president would handle a domestic showdown that has geopolitical implications, there was no panic — at least not yet.
“This is not a situation that causes a fire,” she said.
Also on the sidelines of the summit, Biden met with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese instead of a planned visit to his country later this week to participate in the “Quarter” summit. U.S. officials said the trip would be postponed, and Biden invited Albanese to Washington for a state visit as a consolation for the change.
Biden apologized for missing Australia, but Albanese said he understood the circumstances.
“I would do exactly the same thing,” he told Biden, adding, “I’m really looking forward to the state visit.”
The leaders signed an agreement to deepen their partnership to develop raw materials used in clean energy technologies as each seeks to shift supply away from dependence on China. They also issued a joint statement outlining new areas of cooperation in space, trade and defense.
The president also sent Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to take his place at the Pacific Island Nations summit in Papua New Guinea on Monday. That presidential stop was also canceled to get Biden back to Washington sooner.
Biden’s visit would be the first visit of an American president to the country. Pacific island nations are being aggressively courted by the US and China as the two superpowers vie for influence in parts of the world where sea lanes are vital.
In Hiroshima, Biden and other world leaders had to agree on a common framework for boosting their own economic resilience – an acknowledgment that high levels of trade with China have become more of a risk than an opportunity for advanced economies.
Sullivan said the G7 leaders recognize that “we are committed to working with China on issues of mutual interest. And also that we will work to address our serious concerns about China in various areas.” He repeated a phrase often used by G7 leaders that the group is seeking to “de-risk, not separate from, China.”