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

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

Joe Biden Yoshihide Suga hold a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House

Biden's second in-person summit will take place next month with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, part of the new administration's strategy of shoring up alliances as it zeroes in on China as America's most pressing challenge.

President Biden welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at the White House on Friday, his first face-to-face meeting with a foreign leader and a clear signal to an increasingly aggressive China about the shared commitment to strategic cooperation between the United States and Japan.

"President Biden once again expressed his support for this determination", Suga said. The discussions on Taiwan, as well as concerns about China's treatment of Hong Kong and human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region, are expected to be "in line with the kinds of dialogue and discussion seen between the US and Japan in recent times", the official said.

Suga in September succeeded his ally Shinzo Abe, Japan's longest-serving prime minister, who was one of the few democratic allies to manage to preserve stable relations with Biden's volatile predecessor Donald Trump.

While cautiously worded, it was the first time a Japanese leader has joined a USA president in a statement on Taiwan since the allies separately switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing in the 1970s.

With the Suga meeting and another planned summit with South Korea in May, Biden hopes to energize joint efforts with Australia, India and Japan in a grouping known as the Quad, as well as with South Korea, to counter China and longtime USA foe North Korea. 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.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China has expressed solemn concern about "collusion" between Japan and the United States, and the countries should take China's concerns seriously. His administration pushed its comfort zone in a statement stressing "peace and stability" on the Taiwan Strait.

The two 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, the world's third-largest economy, promised under the Paris accord to reduce emissions by 26 percent by 2030 but from 2013 levels - a goal that experts say is not bold enough to meet Suga's goal of a carbon-neutral Japan in 2050.

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

"I think we were able to establish a good relationship of trust", he added. 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 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.

The North Korea review likely will also be in focus for Biden's next summit with a foreign leader. "We will have to make a decision at that point", he said on a TV program.

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