Biden, Suga call for ‘peace and stability across Taiwan Strait’
- First mention of Taiwan in a joint statement by the leaders of the US and Japan since 1969 looks set to infuriate Beijing
- Two sides also discussed Xinjiang and a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’, Suga says
It is the first time since 1969 that the top leaders of the two countries mentioned Taiwan in a joint statement, a move that is set to infuriate Beijing.
“We underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues,” the statement said.
The two sides also discussed “the free and open Indo-Pacific”, he said.
“We also had serious talks on China’s influence over the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific, and the world at large,” Suga said. “We agreed to oppose any attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion in the East and South China seas and intimidation of others in the region.”
Tensions in the region have been rising. The People’s Liberation Army on Monday flew 25 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, its largest such incursion to date.
An informal alliance between the US, Japan, Australia and India, the Quad – short for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – had rarely taken centre stage in global politics since it was established more than a decade ago, but US engagement with the grouping has emerged as a prominent feature of the Biden administration’s foreign policy.
According to the statement, Biden and Suga “affirmed their commitment to the security and openness of 5th generation (5G) wireless networks and concurred that it is important to rely on trustworthy vendors. The United States and Japan will engage with others through our enhanced Global Digital Connectivity Partnership to catalyse investments and to provide training and capacity building to promote vibrant digital economies”.
Biden’s meeting with Suga, his first in-person summit with a foreign leader since taking office in January, included national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, reflecting the wide range of issues under discussion.
Suga’s delegation included deputy chief cabinet secretary Manabu Sakai, special adviser to the prime minister Masashi Adachi and Shigeru Kitamura, secretary general of Japan’s National Security Secretariat.
“Together, we oppose any unilateral action that seeks to undermine Japan’s administration of the Senkaku Islands,” it said.
Suga said: “President Biden again demonstrated America’s commitment to the defence of Japan, including the application of article five of the Japan-US Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security for the Senkaku Islands.”
Meanwhile, Biden’s active engagement with the Quad, including his convening of the grouping’s heads of state in March marked the very first time the four countries’ leaders had met as a unit.
Beijing views the alliance as an “exclusive clique” centred on targeting China, contrary to claims by US State Department spokesman Ned Price that the Quad is “not about any single challenge [or] any single competitor”.
Additional reporting by Owen Churchill and Josephine Ma