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Biden’s Plan to Counter China’s Global Ambitions in India and Vietnam

NEW DELHI—President Joe Biden is set to visit India on Thursday to attend an important economic summit where he will meet with leaders from the world’s most powerful economies. Over the course of the two-day summit, President Biden is expected to emphasize the strength of the U.S. economy and highlight the differences between the U.S. and China’s economic situations in order to position the U.S. as a more reliable partner. Following the summit, President Biden will travel to Vietnam to announce an enhanced partnership with the country, sending a strong message to China.

This trip to Asia takes place amidst increasing geopolitical competition with China as the U.S. seeks to strengthen alliances and relationships with countries, especially in the Global South. Meanwhile, President Biden is facing various pressing political challenges at home, including the possibility of a government shutdown and an impeachment investigation by House Republicans.

Leaders from the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nations will convene in New Delhi, India’s capital, on September 9-10 for the Group of 20 (G20) summit. They will discuss a wide range of issues, including climate change and economic security. While in Delhi, President Biden is expected to have meetings with several leaders on the sidelines of the summit, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. On Friday, he will hold his first bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi of India.

The shift of supply chains from China to India is expected to be a major topic of discussion during the bilateral meeting. The Biden administration has been encouraging U.S. companies to invest in India in key technology sectors as an alternative to China. India has also been pushing to change its name from India to Bharat, with some arguing that the name India is a symbol of its colonial past.

Ahead of the summit, human rights groups have raised concerns about the Modi government’s embrace of a far-right Hindu nationalist ideology and its poor human rights record, particularly regarding minority groups, such as Muslims. India’s close relationship with Russia and its reluctance to take a firm stance on the conflict in Ukraine have also been sources of concern for the U.S. and its European allies.

At last year’s summit, the G20 leaders strongly condemned the war in Ukraine but acknowledged differing views and assessments of the situation. It remains to be seen how this year’s summit will address the Ukraine conflict, with India, as the current G20 president, attempting to strike a balance in the summit’s declaration.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have both decided not to attend the G20 summit in New Delhi. President Biden expressed disappointment at Xi’s absence, as the two leaders last met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in 2022. The reasons for their absence are unclear but could be attributed to Xi’s unpreparedness to interact with Biden or tensions between China and India.

After the conclusion of the G20 summit, President Biden will travel to Vietnam where he will meet with Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and other top Vietnamese leaders. This visit is seen as significant for Vietnam, as it signals the country’s willingness to elevate its partnership with the U.S. amidst concerns about China.

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