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Upcoming trilateral meeting captures attention amid U.S.-Japan coalition vs. China-N. Korea partnership

Upcoming trilateral meeting captures attention amid U.S.-Japan coalition vs. China-N. Korea partnership

Posted April. 12, 2024 07:53,   

Updated April. 12, 2024 07:53


U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida agreed on a comprehensive alliance upgrade program to modernize the U.S. Forces in Japan and improve mutual military command structures at a bilateral summit talk in Washington on Wednesday. They joined forces to take their military alliance to the next level to keep China in check and respond to North Korean nuclear issues. Meanwhile, China’s third highest-ranking official, Zhao Leji, the current chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, arrived in North Korea on Thursday, presumably, to discuss better ways to cooperate with the North Korean regime as one of China’s top-ranking officials who first visited since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.

The enhanced level of solidarity between Washington and Japan is interpreted as a clear message that they will keep a closer eye on China. On Thursday (local time), the two heads of state will bring together Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to demonstrate their strong determination to build a defense network against China’s action based on a three-way quasi-alliance landscape. Washington has involved Japan, which maintains a closely bound alliance, in various small-group meetings as part of its efforts to supplement their bilateral relationship with alliance networks densely knitted with such small groups of countries. In response, Japan is accelerating its transition to a country that may go to war by securing counterattack capabilities.

With this in mind, China has recently paid renewed attention to a closer relationship with Pyongyang. It distanced itself from the regime as it got closer to Russia through arms trade deals last year. However, Leji’s visit to Pyongyang will be a turning point to embrace the regime. This year, many trilateral diplomatic events are likely to happen including China-North Korea and China-Russia summit talks.

Against the backdrop of the intensifying diplomatic competition between the ROK-U.S.-Japan and China-Russia-North Korea partnerships, a ROK-China-Japan trilateral summit will be held for the first time in four and a half years in Seoul later next month. Not only will Chinese Premier Li Qiang, who has, in effect, little real power in the country, attend the meeting, but also there is still uncertainty about finding common ground during the meeting in a way that mitigates the growing diplomatic tensions. Having said that, the upcoming summit talk will help facilitate ways to address the soured Sino-Korean relations. As a host country, Seoul currently has a bigger role to play in preparation for the event than at any other time before.