Biden Trip To Asia Reaffirms Alliance with South Korea and Japan Remain Rock-Solid.
By: Ahmed Fathi
The upcoming trip of President Joe Biden to South Korea and Japan coincides with a critical juncture in US Indo-Pacific diplomacy, as Washington seeks to strengthen security networks across its Asian and European allies and partners.
Biden's main foreign policy objective is to contain China, and he does not want American support to Ukraine to seem that his priorities have shifted westward. The objective of the trip is to demonstrate the United States' commitment to Asia and to convey to China and North Korea that regional ties with South Korea and Japan remain rock-solid.
Although Biden's meeting with his counterparts from Japan, Australia, and India at the Quad Summit in Tokyo will attract the most media attention, his earlier trip in Seoul will be the real game-changer for the Indo-Pacific policy. After Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the inclusion of South Korea in the Indo-Pacific framework will have a significant impact on the development of security cooperation among US allies.
The meeting between President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol will occur barely eleven days after Yoon's inauguration. Yoon, an Americanophile who aimed to build a "stronger partnership with Washington...the central axis of Seoul's foreign policy," was an advocate of closer ties with the United States.
Given that Kim Jong Un has conducted sixteen nuclear tests this year, including a possibly game-changing launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, Biden would push Yoon to maintain this firm stance against North Korea while in Seoul.Ã‚ In addition, there is growing anxiety that another ICBM launch or nuclear test, or both, is imminent. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told a press conference that there is a real risk that North Korea may conduct another missile test, including a long-range missile test, a nuclear test, or both, in the days leading up to, during, or after the president's travel to the region. Sullivan continued, "Of course, we are prepared to make both short- and long-term adjustments to our military posture."
Even though President Yoon won by a razor-thin margin and has a weak mandate, he may be wary to insult China, an essential trading partner, because economic growth remains a priority.
Uncertain whether Yoon will be as tough as the United States desires.