Biden Meets Japan's Leader to Boost China-facing Alliances

US Japan Show United Front On China In Biden's First Summit

The Biden administration calls managing USA policies toward China and the Indo-Pacific the primary challenge for the United States.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is set to meet U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday.

Sheila Smith, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told VOA that while the United States and Japan will want to present a united front on China, "both governments understand that this is a delicate moment in the relationship with China" and "they don't want to incite or provoke activities that they don't desire".

The forthright statement comes despite Japan's efforts in recent years not to antagonize China, its top trading partner, including by not joining Western nations in sanctions over human rights.

But it is China that is expected to be one of the biggest focuses.

Biden hosted Suga for talks that offered the Democratic president, inaugurated in January, a chance to work further on his pledge to revitalize USA alliances that frayed under his Republican predecessor Donald Trump.

A joint statement after the summit referred to the "importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait", Jiji news agency reported - the first such reference to the issue in a statement by leaders of the two countries since 1969.

The official added that Biden and Suga are expected to bolster efforts with the other Quad countries, Australia and India, as well as South Korea, in order to counter China's influence in the region, and will announce plans for their next meeting on Friday. Earlier Friday, Suga placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery and visited with Vice President Kamala Harris.


Suga said in March that he plans to invite Biden to the Olympics, due to open on July 23 following a one-year postponement due to the spread of COVID-19.

Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing that Japan and the United States should "take China's concerns and demands seriously, avoid words and actions that interfere in China's internal affairs and harm China's interests". That came during a visit last month by Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, which was the Biden administration's highest-level face-to-face meeting at the time. Japan is itself locked in a dispute with China over Beijing's claim to the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, called Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea.

The U.S. and Japanese governments have been working to strengthen technology supply chains independent of China during a shortage of semiconductors that's worrying businesses around the world.

Japan's economy is intertwined with China's.

Elsewhere, Tokyo has watched with concern as China has built military installations on disputed territory it claims in the South China Sea.

The president is determined to successfully pull off the foreign policy initiative that his former boss, President Obama, could not - to engineer a "pivot" from the Middle East, where the USA has been bogged down militarily for two decades, to pay more attention to the vital Indo-Pacific region.

Speaking later to a Washington think tank, Suga said Japan would say what is needed to be said to China and speak up on human rights, but also stressed the need to establish a stable, constructive relationship with Beijing. After initially praising Xi, Trump later took on China head-on and solo, with tariffs and insults, while building a golf-buddy relationship with Suga's predecessor, Abe.

China would "make necessary responses as appropriate", he said.

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