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China Trying to Pull Away U.S. Allies in Asia

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In a strategic move to counter U.S. influence, China recently held a rare summit with Japan and South Korea, aiming to bolster economic ties and promote a multipolar world. This initiative, led by Chinese Premier Li Qiang, reflects China’s growing efforts to woo U.S. allies amid escalating trade tensions. As reported by WSJ’s Dasl Yoon and others, despite the high-level discussions, the summit concluded without significant breakthroughs.

During his two-day visit to Seoul, Premier Li emphasized the need for Japan, South Korea, and China to work together economically, especially in light of recent U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods such as electric vehicles. Li’s rhetoric echoed President Xi Jinping’s recent appeals for global cooperation against economic protectionism.

“We should resolve suspicions and misunderstandings through honest dialogue, uphold bilateral relations with a spirit of strategic autonomy, promote a multipolar world and oppose bloc confrontation and factionalism,” Li stated at the joint news conference. However, while the three leaders agreed to hold regular trilateral meetings and collaborate on trade and clean energy, they fell short of implementing concrete measures against protectionism.

China remains the top trading partner for both Japan and South Korea, intertwined through industries like semiconductors and electric vehicles. Yet, in recent years, Seoul and Tokyo have strengthened their security and political ties with Washington, underscored by state visits to President Biden by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.

The summit marked the first meeting between the three nations since 2019, reflecting a tentative step towards thawing relations. China hopes to deter South Korea and Japan from further aligning with U.S. trade restrictions, a challenging feat given their deep-rooted security alliances with Washington. Jeremy Chan, a senior analyst at Eurasia Group, noted, “China hopes to use the trilateral summit to prevent two of its erstwhile regional partners from drifting too far into Washington’s orbit.”

Amid the diplomatic discussions, underlying tensions surfaced, particularly concerning military and security issues. Both Yoon and Kishida urged North Korea to halt its planned satellite launch, which would breach U.N. Security Council resolutions. Li refrained from commenting on North Korea, instead advocating for restraint from all parties. Shortly after the summit, North Korea proceeded with a satellite launch, although it failed during the initial stages.

Moreover, Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida highlighted concerns over military activities around the Taiwan Strait during a bilateral meeting with Li, stressing the international significance of the issue. Li reiterated that Taiwan remains central to China’s interests.

While Japan and South Korea cannot openly side with China against U.S. tariffs without jeopardizing their political relationships with Washington, the summit subtly signaled that unilateral U.S. policies could inadvertently push its allies closer to Beijing. Tongfi Kim of the Brussels School of Governance remarked that such trilateral engagements reveal the complex dynamics at play, where U.S. actions might drive its partners towards seeking a more balanced relationship with China.

ACZ Editor: China attempts to undermine U.S. relationships whenever and wherever it can. Unfortunately, the Biden Administration doesn’t realize the full extent of the war we are in, or the dire consequences of losing.

https://www.wsj.com/world/asia/china-courts-u-s-s-top-asian-allies-on-trade-but-will-it-succeed-ac287b85

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