Jake Sullivan hits back on reports Biden's canceled plans is win for China trends now
'We believe this notion that somehow the PRC [People's Republic of China] is sitting there happy and comfortable about the situation is a convenient media narrative going into this trip, but it does not reflect reality in any way,' Sullivan, who is the president's top foreign policy adviser, told reporters traveling on Air Force One to Japan.
'It's not for me to give you advice on or to make a pitch to you on how you report things. But I think there is a degree of fairly dramatic over-cranking in saying that pushing off a visit to Australia and PNG speaks to the fundamentals of American diplomacy at this time,' he noted.
President Joe Biden, with granddaughter Maisy, at a refuel stop in Alaska in route to the G7
Biden also canceled an historic visit to Papua New Guinea, where he would have been the first U.S. president to visit in an official capacity, in order to return to the United States to deal with the debt crisis.
He was supposed to visit both countries after attending the G7 summit in Hiroshima.
Those two stops were meant to re-affirm the U.S. commitment to the Pacific as China's political, military and economic power in the region rises. Canceling them was seen as a foreign policy setback for Biden, who has put a great focus on the Pacific region and countering Jinping's influence there.
Analysts said the president's decision cast doubt to U.S. credibility in the Pacific island region, where Washington is competing with Beijing for influence.
'It will reinforce lingering doubts about U.S. staying power,' Hal Brands, a professor of global affairs at Johns Hopkins University, told The New York Times. 'And you can bet China will make hay of this — its message to countries in the region will be, 'You can't count on a country that can't even perform basic functions of governance.'
And Richard Maude of the Asia Society Policy Institute said the cancellation could be a setback for relations.
'The mantra in the region is all about turning up. Turning up is half the battle. China turns up all the time, and so the optics aren't great,' he told Reuters.
Xi has visited the region three times, including a 2018 visit to Papua New Guinea.
But the White House slammed such talk, arguing countering China would be a major topic of the G7, where the leaders of France, the United States, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan meet.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also invited the leaders of the Quad - which is made of Australia, India, the United States and Japan - to the G7. There is talk of plans for the four leaders to have a sit down on the sidelines of the G7.
'The President felt it was critical that he be at the G7 because this particular format is so central to getting alignment and convergence with key countries -- including, by the way, the countries in the Quad, because both Australia and India will be in Hiroshima, and he will have the opportunity to engage with them there,' Sullivan argued.
He also said Biden would hold a summit for the leaders of the Pacific Island nations this year and would make a visit to Australia. Biden also invited Aussie Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to make a state visit to the United States later this year.
Biden hosted a summit of Pacific Island leaders last year.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan slammed the news media for reports that President Joe Biden's cancellation of the Australia portion of his trip was a win for Chinese President Xi Jinping
The Pacific islands span 40 million square km of ocean,