Biden and Yoon highlight shared vision . . .
U.S. President Joe Biden is wrapping up his first official visit to the Asia Pacific region. He first travelled to South Korea for a two-day visit focusing on trade and security concerns and met with his counterpart, newly elected President Yoon Suk-yeol. Both leaders pledged wide-ranging co-operation, from trade and security to global issues. They highlighted their commitment to maintaining global and regional peace and stability and their shared goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. The two presidents also stressed the importance of the 2012 Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and the need for further co-operation in science and technology and mitigating supply chain challenges.
Frameworks and summits launched . . .
On Monday, Biden unveiled the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) with 12 partners (Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). The IPEF aims to deepen economic engagement among its members via four pillars: connected economy, resilient economy, clean economy, and fair economy. Today, members of the Quadrilateral Alliance (Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S.) met to re-emphasize their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and the region's stability, development, and sustainability. The ‘Quad’ also committed to investing US$50 billion in regional infrastructure projects. On the margins of the summit, while answering a question from a journalist, Biden said the U.S. would intervene militarily if Taiwan were attacked, contradicting the long-standing ambiguity in U.S. policy. The White House quickly walked back Biden’s remark and insisted official U.S. policy on Taiwan remains unchanged.
Critical timing for Biden’s visit . . .
Biden’s first visit to the region comes at a critical time. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put Europe front and centre, diverting substantial resources from the U.S. and its allies. Meanwhile, newly elected leaders in Australia and South Korea could have weakened the Quad alliance if they had shown hesitancy over the policy put forward by their predecessors, which neither did. For now, the release of the IPEF and the Quad’s continued efforts should reassure U.S. allies in the region of its commitment to engaging on various fronts, including trade, infrastructure, global health, and security.
- Nikkei Asia: Singapore to join Biden Indo-Pacific pact, back China's CPTPP entry: Lee
- The Straight Times: Quad leaders vow to stand together for free and open Indo-Pacific
- The Washington Post: Three theories on Biden’s repeated Taiwan gaffes