Wed, 12 May 2021

Biden, Japan's Suga to Discuss China at White House Summit

Voice of America
17 Apr 2021, 04:05 GMT+10

U.S. President Joe Biden plans to discuss ways to counter competitive pressure from China during a White House summit Friday with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga aimed at revitalizing the U.S.-Japan alliance.

Biden, who took office in January, has focused on reviving the alliance, as well as U.S. involvement in multilateral institutions, which were often criticized or shunned by former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Suga will be the first foreign leader to visit the White House since Biden took office.

The meeting underscores the importance of the alliance between the two countries, particularly as their rival, China, grows in strength and aggressiveness.

"We have to shore up American competitiveness to meet the stiff competition we're facing from an increasingly assertive China," Biden said earlier this week as he explained his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

WATCH LIVE: Joint press conference at 415pm EDT

Japan recently joined the U.S. and other countries in calling out Beijing's human rights abuses and incursions into disputed areas of the East and South China Seas, seen as a departure from a longstanding trade and economics-centered approach.

China, however, is Japan's longtime rival and largest trading partner, leading some analysts to predict Suga will refrain from overtly antagonizing Beijing during his meeting with Biden.

Japanese ambassador to South Korea Koji Tomita (L) arrives at the foreign ministry in Seoul on March 6, 2020 as Seoul summons... FILE - Japanese ambassador to South Korea Koji Tomita, left, arrives at the foreign ministry in Seoul, March 6, 2020.

Japan's ambassador to the U.S., Koji Tomita, recently told VOA the need for a stronger U.S.-Japanese alliance and a "free and open" Indo-Pacific region will be top issues at the summit.

Tomita said Japan is "very encouraged" by Biden's active engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, citing last month's virtual Quad Summit, in which Biden hosted the leaders of Japan, Australia and India.

"The international order is being challenged in various ways, so we hope to continue having specific discussions on the ways that Japan and the U.S. can take initiative in realizing our shared vision," he added.

Before Suga's meeting with Biden, China's Foreign Affairs Ministry warned Japan against "being misled by some countries holding biased views against China."

Earlier this month, China also sent a naval strike group near Okinawa, where the U.S. has troops, a signal Beijing is prepared to counter the U.S.-Japan alliance.

Japan hosts approximately 55,000 U.S. troops. The two sides routinely describe their alliance as the "cornerstone" of peace and stability in Asia.

William Gallo contributed to this story from Seoul, Natalie Liu from Washington.

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