Biden’s trip to Asia, explained

President Biden. Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock

President Biden left Thursday afternoon for a trip to Asia, the first time he has visited the continent during his presidency. But what is he going to do there, and why is he going there now? Here’s everything you need to know:

What countries does Biden visit?

The president’s five-day trip begins Friday in South Korea, after which he will travel to Japan to meet with leaders from Australia, Japan and India. The three countries, plus the United States, form the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or the Quad, a group relaunched in 2017 to “better coordinate against China’s ambitions in the region”, writes The hill.

Biden’s visit also follows last week’s two-day summit in Washington, where leaders of Southeast Asian countries gathered at the White House talk about China with the president.

What is the program for this trip?

Biden hopes to reassure his allies that the United States can handle two foreign policy threats at once. Much, if not all, of the administration’s attention has recently been directed to Russia’s war in Ukraine, eclipsing the “top foreign policy priority of countering China.” The Wall Street Journal Remarks. By traveling to Asia, Biden plans to reinvigorate such initiatives and “show that his administration can multitask when it comes to leading coalitions against aggressive superpowers,” writes The Washington Post.

In South Korea, Biden will meet with newly elected President Yoon Suk-yeol, who hopes to “reinvigorate defense ties with the United States,” the Log Remarks. And in Japan, the Quad will convene an in-person summit to discuss concerns about China’s growing influence in Asia.

The president is also expected to discuss the economy with South Korea’s Yoon and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, according to the Log, “as part of the official launch of the administration’s new trade initiative, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.” The new framework aims to foster economic ties with Asia-Pacific countries “to address issues such as digital trade, supply chain resilience and green technologies”.

“These two weeks of meetings in Asia are a great signal to an important part of the world that we have not forgotten them, but progress on economic issues is what really matters,” said James A. Kelly, former Secretary of Deputy State. for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, said Politics.

The trip will put Biden’s Indo-Pacific strategy “on full display” while simultaneously demonstrating how “the United States can both lead the free world in responding to Russia’s war in Ukraine, and at the same time chart the path to effective, principled U.S. leadership and engagement in a region that will define much of the future of the 21st century,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said. mentioned Wednesday.

What challenges await him?

Perhaps most notably, North Korea is reportedly planning a nuclear test or long-range missile test while Biden is in the region, U.S. and South Korean intelligence have said. And the timing of such a move is no coincidence, said Yang Moo-jin of South Korea’s University of North Korean Studies. To post. “If North Korea carries out a long-range missile or a nuclear test during Biden’s visit to Seoul, it clearly marks a deliberate provocation aimed at extorting concessions from Washington,” Yang said. Washington and Seoul are preparing a common “plan B” in case of provocation.

Biden will also have to overcome a strained relationship between Japan and South Korea, as well as push for support for the Indo-Pacific economic framework, which has already “raised skepticism due to ambiguity about its scope and intent.” . Politics writing.

Will the leaders discuss the war in Ukraine?

It’s very likely, yes. On the one hand, it appears the war has accelerated an alliance already forming against China between Europe, the United States, Asia and Australia, experts said, for NPR. India, however, has been much more reluctant criticize Russia given the historic alignment between the two countries.

Security analysts also fear that by witnessing Russia’s attack, China may feel emboldened to increase military pressure or launch its own invasion of Taiwan, the official adds. Log. In fact, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is seen in Asia as a “mirror image” of how China might attempt an invasion of Taiwan, said Yuko Nakano, Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic Studies. and international. the hill.

What does China think of all this?

By Politics, Beijing “panicks” at the idea of ​​​​Biden’s trip. China’s foreign ministry has ‘launched a campaign tinged with desperation to warn key US regional allies’ not to join the president’s efforts, with the Chinese foreign minister calling on his South Korean and Japanese counterparts earlier this week. And on Wednesday, top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi reportedly called Sullivan to complain that “the US side has taken a series of wrong words and actions to interfere in China’s internal affairs and harm China’s interests.” . Long story short: it seems Chinese officials aren’t exactly happy.

Will Biden visit the Korean Demilitarized Zone?

No — Biden will not visit the DMZ, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday.

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