US president Joe Biden embarked on his first diplomatic trip to Asia since taking office in a bid to address security issues in the wake of Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific and Pyongyang’s spate of ballistic missile tests.
I’m on my way to the Republic of Korea and Japan for my first trip to Asia as president. I look forward to strengthening vital security alliances, deepening our economic partnerships, and working with fellow democracies to help shape the rules of the road for the 21st century.
— President Biden (@POTUS) May 20, 2022
Biden is expected to meet his South Korean counterpart Yoon Seok-Youl and then embark for Japan on Sunday where he will meet counterpart Fumio Kishida and later next week meet the heads of states of the Quad grouping.
Prime minister Narendra Modi will join the meeting. The attendance of either Anthony Albanese or Scott Morrison are expected from Australia but it remains unclear how this Quad member will represent itself as the nation will vote to elect its new prime minister.
The meeting will be important as it provides the Biden administration to show its Asian allies that despite the war in Ukraine it is keen to exhibit US leadership in the region.
Biden earlier promised that the democracies of the eastern and western hemisphere can come together with the US to counter autocratic regimes in both spheres. The meeting also comes shortly after Biden hosted ASEAN leaders at the White House in May.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan expressed his confidence that the summits will be a success. Buoyed by $40 billion Ukraine weapons and aid package passed Thursday by Congress, which he believed showed the US’ commitment to Ukrainian resistance, Sullivan said that the transatlantic alliance against Russia serves as a cautionary tale for China who are tempted to make a play for Taiwan.
“They’ve been struck by the way in which particularly the transatlantic alliance has come together to impose economic costs on Russia as a result of that aggression,” Sullivan was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
The Biden administration is also impressed with South Korea and Japan governments toeing the line drawn by them with respect to sanctions against Russia. South Korean president Yoon Seok-Youl, who is pro-American, extended a warm welcome to Biden as he boarded Air Force One.
“A mountain shows its way to the summit to those who seek it. I am confident the ROK-US alliance that seeks to uphold the values of democracy and human rights shall only elevate in the future,” Yoon tweeted.
However, the US president does not expect a warm welcome from Kim Jong Un, the so-called supreme leader of North Korea, who may order a nuclear test during Biden’s trip. Sullivan said that the United States is braced for North Korea to again defy UN sanctions but if that were to happen then it would result in ‘adjustments to the way that (US) military is postured in the region.’