Biden, around the world, makes deals

by MMC
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Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak at the G20 summit in New Delhi on September 9, 2023.

A version of this story appeared on CNN’s What Matters newscast. To receive it in your inbox, sign up for free here.


Joe Biden has framed his presidency as a struggle between democracy and autocracy and pitted the United States against Russia and China.

While Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping were absent from the G20 meeting in New Delhi over the weekend, Biden took the opportunity to appear alongside the leaders of India and Saudi Arabia, two countries that the United States has criticized for their human rights records, but whose economic support it badly needs.

In Vietnam, Biden forged deeper ties with the communist nation, announcing deals, including between Vietnam Airlines and the American company Boeing, intended to integrate the United States into the emerging market and invest in friendly countries, a strategy known as “Friend-shoring”.

At the G20 in New Delhi, Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appeared together and announced their participation in the new India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor.

CNN’s Nadeen Ebrahim notes in the Meanwhile in the Middle East newsletter that the planned trade route will connect India with the Middle East and Europe “through railways and ports” and could be seen as a direct challenge to China’s years of development . One belt, one road effort to connect with the rest of the world.

Ebrahim adds: “This ambitious plan shows how the United States can count on its Middle East allies in its efforts to contain the rise of China, but also how the Gulf states are trying to find a balance between their traditional allies like the United States and its emerging partners like China in this area. they see it as a world order that is no longer unipolar.

Biden said the trade route announcement comes “at an inflection point in history” and that infrastructure investments in developing countries will have a ripple effect across generations.

But the interests of these disparate countries are not always aligned. CNN Notes by Kevin Liptak that Biden and other Western leaders had to soften a joint G20 statement regarding Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The group’s final statement did not cite Russia, but instead said “all states must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition.”

China’s Xi hasn’t missed a G20 in more than a decade, according to CNN’s Nectar Gan, who writes an interesting analysis on Xi’s apparent plan to reshape global governance.

Xi did attend the recent BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit.

Gan writes:

From the perspective of the China-US rivalry, analysts say Xi’s expected no-show at the G20 could also signal his disillusionment with the existing global governance system – and the structures that he considers to be too dominated by American influence.

Instead, Xi could prioritize multilateral forums that align with China’s own vision of how the world should be governed – such as the recently concluded BRICS summit and the upcoming Belt and Road Forum .

There was more evidence of ongoing efforts to counter China’s rise as the economic and political antipode of the United States, as Biden cemented high-profile diplomatic ties with Vietnam, which is a key emerging market but also a communist nation that the non-profit organization Freedom House lists. as “not free.”

Michelle Toh and Mihir Melwani explain the concept of “friend-shoring”, a favorite term of US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, in an article report for CNN Business: “The practice refers to the movement of supply chains toward allies, in part to protect companies from political friction. »

The pandemic has accelerated companies’ decisions to diversify their production centers outside of China.

Liptak and CNN’s Jeremy Diamond also note that Biden’s advisers have struggled to convey to the American public a president who seems to thrive on these long trips to meet with other heads of state. On the other hand, most American voters are concerned about his age and his physical and mental abilities.

From Liptak and Diamond:

Reconciling these competing visions will be a singular challenge for Biden as he accelerates his re-election campaign. For the president and his advisers, foreign trips – which happen at a frenetic pace, with little sleep – are often an opportunity to dispel the notion that the 80-year-old president is too old to make the move. work and are increasingly relying on these trips to make their case.

Traveling to New Delhi and Hanoi in recent days, Biden sought to seize the opportunity. He rushed from leader to leader for quick informal discussions in the summit room, seeking to cultivate the interpersonal relationships that made his mark.

One problem for Biden is that the video many Americans might see during their trip is an awkward moment during a press conference — press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre finished her appearance while he was still responding to questions. questions from journalists. Moments earlier, Biden engaged in a roundabout explanation for his use of the term “lying dog-faced pony soldier,” which is a modification of a line from a John Wayne movie.

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