US and China tensions have been rising rapidly amid the coronavirus pandemic. The two countries have been at odds over the reporting of the virus, and also over trade disputes.
US President Donald Trump reportedly plans to invite Australia, India, South Korea and Russia to a future Group of Seven meeting.
He said on Saturday that he invited the four to attend the summit and said he felt the group was “very outdated”.
It is not clear whether President Trump wants the G7 to become the G11.
White House spokeswoman Alyssa Farah also said Trump wants the summit to discuss China.
Both South Korea and Australia are long-standing US allies.
Australia has backed calls for an independent inquiry into the source of the COVID-19 outbreak.
They also share concerns with the US over China’s new Hong Kong security law.
The US has also been fostering closer ties with India, which has varying disagreements with China, including border tensions in Ladakh.
Ni Feng, director of the Institute of American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Trump was trying to mobilise support from US allies in containing China.
Ni said: “The intention is simple: to isolate China.
“It is just the beginning, and more containment measures will follow.”
John Lee, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a Washington think tank, also said the US “may be looking to advance an agenda which will consider placing responsibility onto China for the latter’s failures in allowing a pandemic to occur”.
Shahar Hameiri, an associate professor at the University of Queensland’s School of Political Science and International Studies, said it was “fair to assume” that Trump’s proposal for an expanded G7 was linked to the increasing US-China rivalry.
However, he said it was not clear that the countries in question would be “particularly thrilled” to follow this path and it was a “big if” whether any substantive changes to the G7 would happen.
The countries involved also have their own business and commercial interests in China, which might make it hard to reach a consensus on isolating and containing China.
For instance, despite the current spat between Beijing and Canberra over calls for a coronavirus inquiry, China remains Australia’s largest trading partner and its biggest export market.