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Biden hosts Japan’s Suga for first White House summit; China tops agenda

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President Joe Biden hosted Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday as the primary international chief to go to his White House, underscoring Tokyo’s central function in U.S. efforts to counter China’s rising assertiveness.

Mr. Biden welcomed Mr. Suga for a one-day summit that supplied the Democratic president an opportunity to work additional on his pledge torevitalize U.S. alliances that frayed underneath his Republican predecessor, former President Donald Trump.

“Our cooperation is vital … to meeting the challenges facing our nations and ensuring the future of the region will remain free and open,” Mr. Biden said as he sat down with Mr. Suga. The two countries, he added, have a “massive agenda forward of us.”

With China topping the list, the meeting was expected to yield steps for diversifying supply chains seen as over-reliant on Beijing and a $2 billion commitment from Japan to work with the United States on alternatives to the 5G network of Chinese firm Huawei, a senior U.S. official said.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Suga also planned to discuss human rights issues related to China, including crackdowns in Hong Kong and on Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang, the official said.

The summit, Mr. Biden’s first in-person meeting with a foreign leader as president, is expected to produce a formal statementon Taiwan, a Chinese-claimed, self-ruled island under increasing military pressure from Beijing, said the official, who did not want to be identified.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Mr. Biden would address with Suga China’s “more and more coercive motion” on Taiwan, which is China’s most sensitive territorial issue.

It would be the first joint statement on Taiwan by U.S. and Japanese leaders since 1969. However, it appears likely to fall short of what Washington has been hoping from Mr. Suga, who inherited a China policy that sought to balance security concerns with economic ties when he took over as premier last September.

In a statement after a March meeting of U.S.-Japan officials, the two sides “underscored the significance of peace and stability within the Taiwan Strait” and shared “critical issues” about human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

The U.S. official said that both countries, while not wanting to raise tensions or provoke China, were trying to senda clear signal that Beijing’s dispatch of warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense zone was incompatible with maintaining peace and stability.

A Japanese foreign ministry official said this week it had not been decided whether there would be a joint statement and two Japanese ruling party lawmakers familiar with the discussions said officials have been divided over whether Mr. Suga should endorse a strong statement on Taiwan.

The U.S. official said Washington would not “insist on Japansomehow signing on to each dimension of our method” and added: “We additionally acknowledge the deep financial and industrial ties between Japan and China and Prime Minister Suga needs to stroll a cautious course, and we respect that.”

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Friday that China has expressed solemn concern about what he called “collusion” between Japan and the United States, and the countries should take China’s concerns seriously.

Suga meets Harris

Mr. Suga arrived at the West Wing doors in a black sports utility vehicle flying U.S. and Japanese flags. The driveway was lined with a flag-bearing military honor guard.

He met earlier with Vice President Kamala Harris, and following Oval Office talks with Mr. Biden the two leaders were due to hold a joint news conference. On Friday morning, Mr. Suga participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

“Freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of legislation are the common values that hyperlink our alliance,” Mr. Suga said in themeeting with Mr. Biden. “The significance of such values has risen to an unprecedented stage.”

As they sat down for talks, Mr. Biden, Mr. Suga and their two delegations all wore masks, in step with protocols to guard towards the unfold of the coronavirus pandemic.

With the Mr. Suga assembly and one other deliberate summit with South Korea in May, Mr. Biden hopes to energise joint efforts with Australia, India and Japan, in a grouping generally known as the Quad, in addition to with South Korea, to counter each China and longtime U.S. foe North Korea.

It requires a fragile balancing act given Japan and South Korea’s financial ties with China and at the moment frosty relationsbetween Seoul and Tokyo.

Also anticipated to determine into the White House discussions are the summer season Olympics as a consequence of be held in Tokyo. Ms. Psaki stated the administration understands the cautious concerns Japan is weighing because it decides whether or not to go forward with the video games. Japan is grappling with rising coronavirus infections with fewer than 100 days from the deliberate begin.

The emphasis on Japan’s key standing might increase Mr. Suga forward ofan election this yr, however some politicians are pushing him for a more durable stance in the direction of Beijing because it will increase maritime actions within the East and South China Seas and close to Taiwan.

The United States, the European Union, Britain and Canada have all imposed sanctions on Chinese officers for alleged abuses in Xinjiang and a few Japanese lawmakers suppose Tokyo ought to undertake its personal legislation permitting it to do the identical, whilst Japanese executives fear a few Chinese backlash. China denies any human rights violations, however Washington says Beijing is perpetrating a genocide in Xinjiang.

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