Left to right: South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida meet at Camp David on Friday.
The United States and two of its closest allies in Asia on Friday announced renewed commitments to show their solidarity and strength with rising China. Leaders of the United States, South Korea and Japan put aside their troubled histories as three of the most powerful democracies in the Pacific, a move likely to further strain the already strained US-Beijing relationship.
President Joe Biden's summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at Camp David was intended as a show of force as the countries grapple with North Korea's ongoing provocative behavior and China's military and economic aggression.
Subsequent announcements by leaders -- including new military drills and a crisis communications hotline -- reflected the current era of tensions in Asia, with like-minded nations working together in ways that are likely to only fuel more hostility in Beijing.
Biden's desire to strengthen alliances was a sign that tensions will not ease anytime soon.
Biden has sought to deepen ties with allies in the Indo-Pacific in the face of Beijing's concerns, thanking his counterparts for attending and hailing the "political courage" shown.
While Biden stressed that the summit is not about China, the talks could fuel tensions with Beijing. When I was asked about the trilateral meeting on Friday,Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said: "No country should pursue its own security at the expense of the security interests and regional peace and stability of other countries," adding that the Asia-Pacific region "should not be turned into a theater of geopolitical competition."
In a statement released after the summit concluded, the three leaders announced a new "commitment to consultations," a tripartite hotline, a commitment to conduct annual military exercises and information-sharing, and a new annual trilateral summit.
The summit will not result in a tripartite collective defense agreement but will underline "that a challenge for one country is a challenge for all countries," a senior government official said. The new "consultation obligation" does not replace any mutual defense treaties the US has signed with either country.
The meeting marks the first time Biden has hosted foreign leaders at the retreat at Camp David, a site of historic diplomatic negotiations for former presidents.
The prospect of trilateral advances between countries has not always been obvious. Decades of tension and distrust followed Seoul-Tokyo relations, including a dispute over forced labor by Japan during the occupation of Korea.
But given the ongoing missile threats from North Korea and China's military maneuvers in the region, Kishida and Yoon have gone to great lengths to put these differences aside. Years. US officials hailed this work as an important step in strengthening the trilateral partnership that once seemed unthinkable.
"China's entire strategy is based on the premise that America's biggest and second-biggest allies in the region cannot come together and agree," Rahm Emanuel, the US ambassador to Japan, told the Brookings Institution on Wednesday.
"A Time of Unprecedented Opportunity"
Biden made a veiled dig at Beijing's influence, being particularly careful to pledge to the three nations their support "for international law, freedom of navigation and a peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea" and "our shared commitment to maintaining peace and... to ensure "stability" in the Taiwan Strait and address economic constraints."
“This summit was not about China. That wasn't the purpose of the meeting, but ... China has clearly stood out," Biden said, adding that he hopes to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the fall. "That's not to say we don't share our concerns about the economic constraints or heightened tensions China is causing, but this summit was really about our relationship with each other and deepening cooperation on a whole range of issues that go well beyond went beyond the mere topic. Immediate issues we addressed.”
Biden said a more peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region would "frankly" benefit everyone there and around the world if we get it right.
"It's not just here," he said. "It's having a phenomenal impact. As you can see from the initiatives we are announcing here today, how committed we are to realizing and realizing this vision.
He said leaders have "created a long-term structure for a relationship that will last and have phenomenal impact not just in Asia but around the world."
Biden also specifically condemned "threats from (North Korea)" including cryptocurrency money laundering and possible arms transfers to Russia in support of the invasion of Ukraine.
"Mr President, Mr Prime Minister, this is the first Summit I have hosted as President at Camp David - I can't think of a more appropriate place to start the next era, our next era of working together, a place where... has long carried the power of new beginnings and new possibilities," Biden said.
In the joint statement, Biden, Kishida and Yoon reaffirmed the three countries' trilateral partnership at what they described as "a time of unprecedented opportunity for our countries and our citizens" and at a pivotal point in history when the geopolitical Competition, the climate crisis, the Russian offensive war against Ukraine and nuclear provocations are testing us.”
“This is a moment that requires unity and coordinated action from real partners, and it is a moment when we want to come together. Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States are committed to pooling our joint efforts as we believe our trilateral partnership advances the security and prosperity of all of our peoples, the region and the world," the statement said .
In the joint statement, the three leaders also expressed "concern about actions that violate the rules-based international order and undermine peace and prosperity in the region," while emphasizing "the dangerous and aggressive behavior in support of illegal maritime claims that the we recently observed from the US". People's Republic of China (PRC) in the South China Sea."
And regarding North Korea, the three leaders "reaffirm our commitment to the full denuclearization of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in line with relevant UN Security Council resolutions and call on the DPRK to continue its nuclear and missile programs." and to stop."
"We strongly condemn the DPRK's unprecedented number of ballistic missile launches, including multiple launches of ICBMs and conventional military actions, which pose a serious threat to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and beyond," the statement said . "We express our concern about the DPRK's illicit cyber activities funding its illicit weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs."
U.S. President Joe Biden holds a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol during the Trilateral Summit at Camp David near Thurmont, Maryland, August 18, 2023. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
Alliance-building is a cornerstone of Biden's foreign policy
The meeting in the remote, forested retreat underscores Biden's mission to revitalize alliances after his predecessor's tumultuous four years -- a key argument from Biden's 2020 campaign that extends to his re-election efforts.
Since the beginning of his tenure, Biden has sought to bring Asian allies like Japan and South Korea closer together, in part to counter China. Biden's first visits to the White House by foreign leaders were Japan and South Korea, and he visited the countries sequentially in May 2022.
The leaders held trilateral meetings on the sidelines of last year's NATO summit in Madrid and at the G7 summit in Hiroshima in May, but the Camp David meeting was the first standalone summit for the three leaders. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has held annual meetings with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, beginning with a meeting in Annapolis, Maryland less than three months into Biden's tenure.
Biden has worked to advance his individual ties and collaborations with South Korea and Japan. Biden and Kishida have touted their efforts to strengthen their country's military alliance, and the two men have worked closely as the US sought to rally allies against Russia's war in Ukraine.
On Friday, Biden thanked Kishida for his "leadership from day one" in responding to the Russian invasion, which he says was "critical in making clear that the ramifications for the war extend far beyond Europe."
"If I remember correctly, well -- I think so, Prime Minister -- we were in a situation where I didn't have to convince you of anything when I called you about Ukraine," Biden said.
During a state visit to South Korea at the White House in April, Biden and Yoon announced a new deal to deter North Korean aggression, including a US pledge to temporarily deploy a nuclear submarine to South Korea for the first time since the 1980s.
The visit also included memorable personal moments when the South Korean president serenaded guests over dinner with a verse from "American Pie." In return, the President presented Yoon with a guitar autographed by Don McLean, the musician responsible for the song. Yoon's father, Yoon Ki Jung, passed away Tuesday, just days before the South Korean president was due to travel to the United States.
Despite the current proximity of all three countries, the White House was aware of the potential reversal of these advances under future administrations in all three countries. At Friday's news conference, Biden dismissed suggestions that his co-leaders should be concerned about US involvement in the Indo-Pacific, amid comments from former President Donald Trump suggesting he was trying to reduce America's footprint in the region to increase if he wins the 2024 election. .
"This isn't just about a summit — what makes it different today is that it's actually launching a series of initiatives that are actually institutional changes in the way we interact," Biden said.
This story has been updated with additional reports.
CNN's Sam Fossum and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.
Biden's call for a 'new era of cooperation' with Japan and South Korea likely to escalate tensions with Beijing | CNN policy? ›
Biden has sought to deepen ties with allies in the Indo-Pacific amid concerns about Beijing, and thanked his counterparts for their participation, offering effusive praise for the “political courage” on display. While Biden stressed that the summit was not about China, the talks may stoke tensions with Beijing.What is the problem between Japan and South Korea? ›
The two regions have a long history of relations as immediate neighbors that has been marked with conflict. One of the most significant issues is the Japanese colonization of Korea that began with the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1910 and ended with the surrender of Japan at the end of World War II.Why are South Korea and Japan enemies? ›
These disputes include: territorial claims on Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo or Takeshima), Japanese prime ministers' visits to Yasukuni Shrine, differing views on Imperial Japan's treatment of colonial Korea, and Japan's refusal to negotiate Korea's demands that it apologize or pay reparations for mistreatment of World War II ...Who is Biden bringing together at Camp David? ›
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Japan's trade surplus with South Korea fell to below the 2 trillion yen ($14.6 billion at current rates) mark in 2019 and 2020 from a high of over 3 trillion yen. The surplus has since recovered to 2.69 trillion yen in 2022, partly due to renewed chip-related investments in South Korea.Why are people boycotting Japan? ›
Boycotts of Japanese products have been conducted by numerous Korean, Chinese and American civilian and governmental organizations in response to real or disputed Japanese aggression and atrocities, whether military, political or economic.Are South Korea and Japan allies now? ›
Biden praised the political courage of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio for their efforts to work together. He said the Republic of Korea and Japan are capable and indispensable allies, and that America's commitment to both countries is ironclad.What caused the conflict between Korea and Japan? ›
The areas of historical tension between South Korea and Japan range widely, including over the name of the body of water separating Japan and the Korean Peninsula (Sea of Japan or East Sea); sovereignty over a group of rocky islets between the two countries (Dokdo/Takeshima); the legality of Japan's colonization of ...Is South Korea and Japan are enemies? ›
Historically bitter enemies, Japan and South Korea are each host to tens of thousands of American troops and both are now seeking to build up their militaries and their cooperation.Why is there animosity between Korea and Japan? ›
Approximately 200,000 Korean children (predominantly ages 12–17) were also sent forcefully as "comfort women" at the war frontlines to serve the Imperial Japanese Army as sex slaves. The issue regarding "comfort women" has been the source of diplomatic tensions between Japan and Korea since the 1980s.
The Camp David Accords, signed by President Jimmy Carter, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in September 1978, established a framework for a historic peace treaty concluded between Israel and Egypt in March 1979.What two countries leaders came to Camp David to try to come to an agreement for peace? ›
At the invitation of U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt came to the secluded presidential retreat, Camp David, hoping to find avenues to peace in their troubled part of the world.Which president signed the Camp David Accords? ›
United States President Jimmy Carter greeting Egyptian President Anwar Sadat at the White House shortly after the Camp David Accords went into effect, 8 April 1980.Who is richer Japan or South Korea? ›
A major geoeconomic event occurred in 2018 when South Korea's real GDP per capita surpassed that of Japan. By 2026, the International Monetary Fund projects that South Korea will be 12 per cent ahead of Japan.Who is Japan's biggest economic partner? ›
The Korean economy is simply stronger and enjoys a more consistent track record of growth. Because of this, South Korea will soon be richer than Japan on a per-capita basis. That's despite the former spending the past few decades catching up.Why did Korea and Japan have a war? ›
In 1910, Korea was annexed by the Empire of Japan after years of war, intimidation and political machinations; the country would be considered a part of Japan until 1945. In order to establish control over its new protectorate, the Empire of Japan waged an all-out war on Korean culture.Did Japan ever apologize to Korea? ›
April 18, 1990: Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Nakayama said to the people of South Korea: "Japan is deeply sorry for the tragedy in which these (Korean) people were moved to Sakhalin not of their own free will but by the design of the Japanese government and had to remain there after the conclusion of the war" ( ...What did Japan want to do with Korea? ›
Japan invaded/colonized Korea because it was part of Japan's imperialist goals. Since Japan ended its seclusion policy and established diplomatic relationships with the Great Powers, there had always been a possibility that Japan would be invaded and colonized.Who is Japan's biggest ally? ›
Here are some of the key allies of Japan: United States: The United States is Japan's most important ally. The two countries have a strong bilateral relationship, which includes a mutual defense treaty. They cooperate closely on various issues, including security, trade, and regional stability.