US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida discussed the implications of Beijing’s economic challenges last week, and agreed to build more stability into their relations with China, senior officials from both sides said on Tuesday. In a discussion with White House Indo-Pacific adviser Kurt Campbell organised by the Centre for Strategic and international Studies, Japan’s ambassador to the US Koji Tomita said that Biden and Kishida spoke of the “economic prospects for China” and “certain aspects of Chinese behaviour having very serious concern for our two countries”. Tomita added: “I think there was a recognition that both of us need to strike the right balance between responding to the challenges posed by China and ensuring stability in our respective relations with China.” Campbell confirmed that Biden and Kishida, who met in Washington last week, both regarded China’s economic trials – caused at least in part because of its zero-Covid policies – a potential source of instability that Washington and Tokyo should try to offset. “I think both leaders acknowledged that there was a wish in both countries to steady relations with China, [bring] more predictability and to keep the competition in peaceful lanes,” he said. The consequences of China’s zero-Covid efforts for nearly three years are becoming clearer: the country missed an economic growth target that Beijing had set of “around 5.5 per cent ” for 2022. While official data shows full-year 2022 economic growth at 3 per cent , fourth-quarter growth came in above some expectations. Kishida’s summit with Biden capped off a series of meetings that the prime minister took with G7 leaders, and followed significant changes that his administration has made to strengthen Japan’s military posture in response to a more powerful Chinese military presence in the region. The discussion moderator Christopher Johnstone – who has served as the National Security Council’s director for East Asia under Biden and director for Japan and Oceanian affairs under former president Barack Obama – called Japan’s new military objectives a “path-breaking change that we haven’t seen, really in the entirety of the of the post-war period”. While praising Kishida’s defence agenda and cooperation with America on the military and other fronts, Campbell noted that interoperability and greater policy coordination would require much more work in Washington, Tokyo and in between. “We are likely going to have to invest more in people on both sides into the tasks of alliance management,” Campbell said. “I’m struck by what I think we’re going to need to do at [the departments of defence and state], our colleagues in Hawaii at Pacific Command, and particularly in Tokyo at the embassy,” he said. “The tasks and the level of coordination have had such … a step change that it can no longer be managed by just a couple of people on the so-called Japan desk,” he said.