Asia & Pacific

China, Regional Security on Agenda as Biden Hosts Japan’s Suga, US Official Says

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – President Joe Biden will be hosting his first in-person bilateral meeting with a foreign leader during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide on Friday to discuss a range of regional security concerns in the western Pacific that include China and North Korea.

“I think you will see in the deliverables the things that we have been focusing on is a broader, deeper set of engagements across technology policy, health-related matters, climate, and also regional security,” a senior Biden administration official said during a telephone briefing on Thursday. “We will also talk about China and the cross-trade circumstances and I think the United States and Japan seek to play a steady, careful role to underscore our mutual commitment in the maintenance of peace and stability and to take steps to calm tensions and to discourage provocations.”

Discussions on China will include Hong Kong and Xinjiang, however, because the United States and Japan have different perspectives on issues in the region, the Biden administration does not expect Japan to commit to every US initiative, official said.

The United States recognizes the close economic ties between Japan and China, but Washington and Tokyo will reveal initiatives designed for both countries to take steps to diversify their supply chains and support alternative 5G networks outside of China’s Huawei, the official said.

During the visit, Biden and Suga will also put some finishing touches on the US government’s review of its North Korea policy, the official said, adding that an announcement is expected on Friday on a substantial Japanese commitment to work with the United States on a $2 billion initiative on 5G telecommunications.

Biden is also expected to have consultations with his Japanese counterpart about the coup in Myanmar and the United States’ rising tensions with China over bilateral engagement with Taiwan, the official said.

Biden’s decision to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan was done in order to focus resources on the urgent challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, the official noted.

The US president may also address concerns over disputes between Japan and South Korea that may threaten trilateral coordination on North Korea, the official said.

On Tuesday, South Korea’s government criticized Japan’s unilateral decision to release Fukushima’s water into the ocean, calling the measure “inappropriate.”

“It is concerning to us, even to the point of being painful for us, to see relations between Japan and South Korea fall to the current level,” the official said. “The political tensions are such that we believe it actually impedes all of our abilities to be effective in northeast Asia.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in earlier remarks that Biden will host South Korean President Moon Jae-in in late May.

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