Club of rich nations should try to cultivate stability, rather than sowing seeds of division

Things have not been going well at home for United States President Joe Biden since he announced his bid for re-election.

His approval rating has seen spectacular nosedives in recent polls, and he is at loggerheads with Republican lawmakers over raising the US debt limit.

Unless a compromise solution can be worked out in time, an impending debt default by the US government may trigger an economic downturn and undermine US credibility as a reliable world leader. It will be a fatal blow to the sitting US president's proud declaration that "America is back" after taking office.

That President Biden has finally decided to proceed with his planned eight-day trip to Asia anyway is not only a show of confidence in the prospect of his Democratic colleagues reaching an agreement with Republicans on the debt issue, but of his eagerness to build and cement what his administration envisages as a critical united front against key US rivals, especially China.

The US president is expected to participate in the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, then visit Papua New Guinea and Australia. And China will be front and center at each of his stops. In Japan, at an enlarged gathering of G7 leaders, which will also feature leaders from the Republic of Korea, Australia, India, Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Comoros and the Cook Islands, the central topic is expected to be the forming of a united approach to China as a looming security threat. In Papua New Guinea, along with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he plans to meet Pacific Island leaders to both reaffirm the US' commitment to the region and push back against what Washington views as China's increasing influence. At the QUAD meeting in Australia, China and the South China Sea are expected to dominate discussions.

Washington may find in Tokyo a dedicated ally in its ongoing campaign to maneuver a de facto strategic siege of China on the world stage, with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida trying everything possible to bring as many potential partners on board as possible.

But since many of the US' European allies have shown an unwillingness to subscribe to the degree of harshness toward China that Washington and Tokyo covet, the White House has recently borrowed from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen the term of "de-risking" and stated the US isn't after "de-coupling" from China.

Although EU foreign ministers broadly backed a recalibration of the bloc's China policy on Friday, that doesn't mean they want to be a US vassal or a battlefield for China-US strategic competition. As French President Emmanuel Macron said after his China visit, Europe wants its own strategic autonomy.

The Japanese leader expanded his guest list by inviting leaders of several key developing nations in a sign of the G7's outreach to the "Global South". But he should not miss the message from the latest meeting of European and some Asia-Pacific foreign ministers, in which few countries from the region showed a readiness to wholeheartedly join an anti-China club.