President Biden’s Flight Forward in Asia-Pacific Region
Joe Biden’s visit to South Korea and Japan began and ended by stoking the fires of military conflict and geopolitical divisions in the region. The U.S. President first met with South Korea’s new president, Yoon Suk Yeol, who had made it a point during his election campaign to build a closer relationship with the United States. At that meeting, the two leaders decided to renew joint military exercises and reactivate a high-level Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group. Biden is also bringing South Korea into his “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework” which, according to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan means that “democracies and open societies of the world stand together to shape the rules of the road”.
The two presidents also spoke of the need for “denuclearization” on the Korean Peninsula. Speaking afterward with CNN, Yoon said that the “age of appeasing North Korea” was over, indicating that he would be playing hardball with President Kim Jong-un.
From there, Biden was off to Japan, where he met with Japanese Premier Kishida. Here, he shocked even his closest allies by saying that the U.S. was prepared to come to Taiwan’s defense if it were under attack by China. This quasi declaration of war provoked a furious response from Beijing.
Since the President’s statements went way far beyond what U.S. policy has been, the White House had to issue a statement reiterating that Washington continues to adhere to the “one-China policy” and that nothing has changed. But while the U.S. has legislation that requires it to maintain a capability allowing Taiwan to defend itself, it has never indicated that it would come to the island’s assistance if it were attacked. Given that this is not the first time President Biden has made such an assertion it is not merely a “gaffe” on his part.
President Biden has also worked to get the Japanese to “jump on board” a “Taiwan defense agenda.” As some in Japan are still licking their wounds from their ignominious defeat in World War II, they will not neglect an opportunity to again play a more muscular role in the Asia-Pacific Theater. Washington’s war policy has allowed the British Empire to proclaim their designs even more boldly, as can be seen in the outlandish statements by British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss about an “Asian NATO” and Boris Johnson’s Scandinavian foray to help bring Sweden and Finland into the Atlantic alliance. If “Global Britain” can come back to life, why not Global Japan…
The problem in Asia is that many countries would see this with a wary eye, even South Korea, which still feels the pangs of Japanese rule. Moreover, the fact that it is clearly aimed against China, their biggest trading partner, gives most of the Asia-Pacific powers pause in serving as cannon fodder for American supremacy.
Biden has also presented his “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework” which has little to do with economics and much to do with monopolizing technology, including semiconductors and artificial intelligence. While China builds railroads in Southeast Asia, the U.S. and its allies “hoard” semiconductors and preach carbon reduction. Not exactly a winning ticket in a region that is crying out for infrastructure. One disgruntled analyst call Joe Biden’s plan a “nothing-burger with nothing on the side”. Not something that can feed the hungry masses looking for a way out of poverty.