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U.S. Allies Caught in the Crossfire of Trade and Security Concerns

Daniel Kim Views  

South Korean Presidential Office

Major U.S. media outlets quickly reported on the trilateral summit between Korea, Japan, and China, while expressing caution about China’s attempts to improve relations with key U.S. allies.

On the 27th (local time), the New York Times (NYT) evaluated the trilateral summit, stating, “The trilateral dialogue has lost its shine due to tension between the U.S. and China,” and “The conversation focused on easier topics such as supply chain protection, cooperation in dealing with aging and infectious diseases, and trade promotion.”

The NYT highlighted that the three leaders were highly cautious about regional security issues such as Taiwan and North Korea. North Korea’s announcement and execution of a reconnaissance satellite launch a few hours before and after the summit highlighted the differences between Korea, Japan, and China.

The NYT further noted, “China believes that it can weaken U.S. influence by winning the hearts of Korea and Japan by providing greater access to its domestic market,” and “China’s agreement to accelerate discussions on the trilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was a strategic move towards that goal.”

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) shared, “China wanted to interfere with the trade relationship between the U.S. and its Asian allies (Korea and Japan),” and “Li Qiang, the Chinese Prime Minister, emphasized the benefits of a harmonious economic relationship between the three countries during the trilateral summit and bilateral meetings with Korea and Japan.”

Despite China’s call to abandon protectionism, the WSJ reported, “The three countries failed to agree on abandoning protectionist trade, and instead, agreed on the need to maintain communication in the field of export control.”

The WSJ also reported that there was no clear consensus on issues related to Taiwan and North Korea.

Yorizumi Watanabe, a former Japanese diplomat, told the WSJ, “Japan is actively trying to maintain its traditional supply chain with China,” and “While it shares concerns about supplying advanced semiconductors to China with the U.S., it aims to secure Chinese parts without disturbing the U.S.”

The Washington Post (WP) reported that China’s stance challenges its close relationship with allies like Korea and Japan.

The WP explained, “This reminds key U.S. allies such as Korea and Japan that they have their interests to manage.”

Daniel Sneider, an East Asia policy expert at Stanford University, told the WP, “I don’t think this trilateral summit will cause alarm in Washington,” but also added, “However, we need to understand that our allies have their interests and they are not always the same as ours.”

The trilateral summit took place amid the Biden administration’s intensification of the trade war with China over electric vehicles, batteries, and semiconductors. Media outlets have offered cynical analyses of the summit, favoring their own country.

A common perspective among major U.S. media outlets is that there was no unexpected closeness between the three countries in the joint declaration and other aspects of the trilateral summit.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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