By Invitation

US-China contest: Questions about the Quad

To win the contest, the Biden administration must win over South-east Asians. More importantly, there are doubts about what the Quad partners – Australia, India and Japan – can deliver for the US.

The vision of Asia's future which the Quad is meant to promote is so vague as to be meaningless. PHOTO: AFP

Ms Kamala Harris gets some tough jobs. Earlier this year, President Joe Biden put her in change of managing America's perennially troubled and politically intractable southern border with Mexico. And this week, on her first big international mission as US Vice-President, she found herself flying to South-east Asia to showcase American power and resolve, just as the debacle in Afghanistan was raising a chorus of doubts about both.

Ms Harris' visit was intended to counteract an impression that the Biden administration has not been paying much attention to South-east Asia. She is only the second top-level visitor since the administration was sworn in earlier this year, following Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin's brief tour last month. That is surprising, given that South-east Asia is so central to the Indo-Pacific region, and the contest with China in the area is clearly Mr Biden's No. 1 strategic and diplomatic priority.

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