Biden, Suga to present united front on Taiwan

Biden to use meeting with Japan's prime minister to send 'clear signal' to China

Suga and Biden, who wore masks for their meeting in a visit modified by precautions against the coronavirus, were seeking to challenge messaging from Chinese President Xi Jinping that America and democracies in general are on the decline following the political turmoil and global withdrawal that marked Donald Trump's presidency.

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

"We also had serious talks about China's influence on the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific and the world at large. Earlier this year, we together with India and Australia, launched the landmark Quad Vaccine Partnership to expand the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines and assist countries throughout the region with vaccination efforts", he said.

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".

"I had a good discussion today with Japanese Prime Minister (Yoshihide) Suga-the first world leader to visit us here in Washington". "At the same time we must work to establish a stable and constructive relationship with China".

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

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.

Suga, like his predecessor Shinzo Abe, who assiduously courted President Trump to maintain close U.S. -Japan relations, is determined to keep America engaged in the region.

Suga expressed eagerness to meet with Biden early on despite global COVID-19 lockdowns. Suga expressed gratitude for being Biden's first foreign visitor and condolences for the victims of the deadly shooting overnight at a FedEx plant in Indianapolis. An honour guard greeted his arrival at the White House.

On another key priority of Biden, Psaki said that Suga was expected to announce a new 2030 target on reducing carbon emissions responsible for climate change.

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During the press conference, Biden commented to Suga on the success of Japanese golfer Hideki Matsuyama in the Master's Tournament. The 29-year-old is the first Japanese player to win at Augusta National.

Their joint statement also expressed concern over human rights for residents of Hong Kong and for China's ethnic Muslim minority, marking another step where Japan was acceding to a USA push for a public rebuke to China.

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

"If the statement had gone further, for example, if it had gone back to the 1969 Nixon-Sato Joint Statement, stating that 'the maintenance of peace and security in the Taiwan area was also a most important factor for the security of Japan, ' that goes a little bit further and China might be even more upset". That came during a visit last month by Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, which was the Biden administration's highest-level face-to-face meeting at the time. Just days before the summit, China sent 25 aircraft, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers, near Taiwan. "They complained about it in the two-plus-two statement in February 2005 when it said the two countries 'encourage the peaceful resolution of issues concerning the Taiwan Strait through dialogue.' China was very upset over that statement". 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.

Beijing claims nearly all of the 1.3 million square mile South China Sea as its sovereign territory.

Japan hosts approximately 55,000 US troops.

"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 USA troops from Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama was seen as cajoling China, in hopes of encouraging reforms.

Kamala Harris, the first Asian American to serve as vice president, as well as the first Black woman, met privately with Suga in the morning, before his meetings with Biden.

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. Also at their summit, Biden and Moon are expected to discuss the frayed relationship between Seoul and Tokyo.

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