Biden and Suga vow to keep Indo-Pacific 'free and open'

Joe Biden-Suga Yoshihide ‘likely’ to announce next in-person Quad Summit, says U.S. official

Calling democracy the foundation for global prosperity, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga met with President Joe Biden at the White House on Friday in a bid to underscore the two countries' alliance as a counter to an autocratic and increasingly assertive China.

Biden said: "We're committed to defending and advancing our shared values, including human rights and the rule of law".

Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing that Japan and the United States should "take China's concerns and demands seriously, avoid words and actions that interfere in China's internal affairs and harm China's interests". His administration pushed its comfort zone in a statement stressing "peace and stability" on the Taiwan Strait. "There was a frank exchange of views regarding Taiwan".

Sporting events also made the agenda between the two leaders. They affirmed cooperation on COVID-19 vaccines and climate change.

But these topics paled beside the need to take a common stand on China.

"The Biden administration, I think, is concerned at how aggressive China has been and how much ground the United States has lost in recent years in Asia and wants to catch up quickly", said Michael Green, who was the top Asia adviser to former president George W. Bush and is now senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "And I'm confident that this is the first time there has been a summit in that time in which trade was not at the top of the agenda".

It was Biden's first in-person summit with a foreign leader since taking office.

They then moved to a small group meeting that lasted 55 minutes. That came during a visit last month by Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, which was the Biden administration's highest-level face-to-face meeting at the time.

All in all, the two leaders spent two and a half hours meeting, far longer than originally planned, the Japanese government briefed reporters.

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What else did Biden, Suga say on East Asia?

"The president emphasizes bipartisanship - and I personally think he's honest - but you don't see it on display with the infrastructure bill and domestic policy", Green said.

China tested USA and Taiwanese resolve weeks into the Biden administration by sending fighter jets and bombers near Taiwan. "He won the Masters", Biden said.

"We have to strengthen our alliances and work with likeminded partners to ensure that the rules of global norms that govern cyber threats and emerging technologies that will shape our future are grounded in our democratic values, not those of the autocrats", Biden said.

"Yoshi, you'll probably be seeing a lot more of me in the future", Biden said at the post-meeting press conference in the Rose Garden.

In a firm message to China, Biden told leaders of the Quad coalition that a "free and open" Indo-Pacific is essential to their countries and vowed that the United States was committed to working with its partners and allies in the region to achieve stability amidst Beijing's coercive actions.

The red-carpet treatment is to signal the importance the Biden administration places on its alliances in Asia in the face of a rising China. The White House announced on Thursday that Biden plans to meet with South Korea President Moon Jae-in in Washington, D.C., in the second half of May.

Biden is also close to finishing a review of his administration's policy on North Korea, and is expected to discuss that review with Suga, the official said.

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