Biden wraps up Asia tour with free and open Indo-Pacific-focused Quad Summit

President Joe Biden walks to Air Force One before his departure from Yokota Air Force Base, Japan, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Kelly Agee/Stars and Stripes)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — President Joe Biden took off in Air Force One from this air travel hub in western Tokyo on Tuesday, taking a five-day trip to Asia, his first as president, after bolstering the ties with US partners in the Indo-Pacific region.

Biden garnered pledges to improve collective defense in South Korea and restore major military exercises suspended in 2017, announced the formation of a 13-member Indo-Pacific Economic Framework in Japan, and met with Japan’s leaders , India and Australia in one show. of solidarity.

But his promise to militarily defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion has drawn the most attention from the world’s media and international security experts.

Some analysts have suggested that Biden’s remarks reframe the US policy of strategic ambiguity regarding Taiwan’s relationship with China. Others said his remarks were just a repeat of the same promise he made earlier.

“My policy hasn’t changed at all,” Biden told reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday. “I said that when I gave my statement yesterday.”

President Joe Biden prepares to board Air Force One at Yokota Air Force Base in western Tokyo on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

President Joe Biden prepares to board Air Force One at Yokota Air Force Base in western Tokyo on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Kelly Agee/Stars and Stripes)

President Joe Biden prepares to board Air Force One at Yokota Air Force Base in western Tokyo on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

President Joe Biden prepares to board Air Force One at Yokota Air Force Base in western Tokyo on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Kelly Agee/Stars and Stripes)

President Joe Biden leaves Marine One at Yokota Air Force Base in western Tokyo on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

President Joe Biden leaves Marine One at Yokota Air Force Base in western Tokyo on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Kelly Agee/Stars and Stripes)

Marine One lands with President Joe Biden aboard Yokota Air Base, Japan, Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

Marine One lands with President Joe Biden on board at Yokota Air Force Base, Japan on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Kelly Agee/Stars and Stripes)

Biden’s statement the day before that “yes” the United States would stand up for island democracy was “an intentional blunder,” according to Jeff Kingston, head of Asian studies at the Temple University campus in Tokyo.

The comment was quickly pushed back by the White House but left “a strong impression of American commitment,” he told Stars and Stripes in an email Monday.

Biden’s trip began Friday at Osan Air Base, South Korea, and ended Tuesday at Yokota Air Base, Tokyo, following the Quad Summit, an informal strategic forum with the Prime Indian Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and newly elected Australian Prime Minister Anthony. Albanian.

The four discussed their responses to the conflict in Ukraine and assessed its implications for the Indo-Pacific.

“The Quad leaders reiterated our firm determination to maintain peace and stability in the region,” read a joint statement released after the summit.

The statement did not mention Russia, the aggressor in Ukraine. Moscow has been condemned and sanctioned by the United States and its allies, but retains strong trade and defense ties with India.

The leaders also declared their support for freedom of navigation and overflight in the East and South China Seas.

China has occupied numerous islets and reefs in the South China Sea in territory claimed by its neighbors. China also claims ownership of the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and frequently sends ships to the area.

“We strongly oppose any coercive, provocative or unilateral action aimed at altering the status quo and increasing tensions in the region, such as the militarization of contested elements, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militias, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities individually and collectively,” the statement from Quad executives said.

They announced their intention to extend more than $50 billion in aid and infrastructure investment in the Indo-Pacific over the next five years. For a decade, China has funded roads, railways, ports, pipelines and power plants across Asia as part of its “Belt and Road” initiative.

Quad leaders also pledged to cooperate on cybersecurity and space and to improve surveillance of the oceans and the vessels that cross them, which will help regional partners respond to natural disasters and combat illegal fishing, according to the joint statement.

About Walter J. Leslie

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