Blinken warns China against 'coercion and aggression' in first Asia trip

Blinken warns China against 'coercion and aggression' in first Asia trip”

On the Biden administration's first Cabinet-level trip overseas, Blinken and Austin also agreed with their Japanese counterparts to cooperate on the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, as well as the nuclear threat posed by North Korea and the situation in Myanmar after its military coup.

Lloyd will be joined in Tokyo and Seoul by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Following the two-nation Asian tour, Blinken is scheduled to meet with Yang Jiechi, a member of the Communist Party of China's Political Bureau and the country's top foreign policy official, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Alaska on Thursday, the first in-person contact between senior officials of the two countries since the Biden administration took office. "No relationship is more important than that between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK)".

Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin and top U.S. diplomat Antony Blinken are on their first overseas trip, which began on Monday in Japan, looking to shore up regional alliances and send a message to Beijing. Seoul and Tokyo have faced deteriorated bilateral ties in recent years, struggling to overcome disputes over historical issues stemming from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule over the peninsula and an ongoing trade spat.

Blinken also said that the United States and Japan reaffirmed the importance of their three-way partnership with South Korea, though the ministers did not publicly mention the strained relations between Tokyo and Seoul over wartime compensation issues.

Secretary Austin and Japan's Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi expressed concern about a new Chinese law, authorizing its coast guard to fire on intruders into what it considers Chinese territorial waters.

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A big part of reviving the USA system of alliances in Asia is getting Tokyo and Seoul to put aside a long and bitter feud over historical issues, including the sexual enslavement of Korean and other women by the Japanese army during World War II, and the 1910-1945 Japanese colonialization of Korea.

They will both continue on to South Korea, before Defence Secretary Austin heads separately to India and Secretary of State Blinken holds talks back in the United States with Chinese officials. Japan announced export restrictions on Korea in 2019 and removed Korea from its so-called white list of most trusted trading partners. Tokyo initially claimed there had been a breach of trust and suggested the restrictions were due to security concerns, but the export measures are seen as retaliation against the Korean Supreme Court rulings in late 2018 ordering Japanese companies to compensate victims of forced labor during World War II. Korea eventually chose to conditionally keep its Gsomia with Japan in November 2019. Motegi said there will another round of two-plus-two talks later this year. The Moon Jae-in government has been making attempts to extend an olive branch since the inauguration of the Yoshihide Suga administration last fall, but Tokyo has not responded to such gestures.

The issue of North Korea's nuclear ambitions will be on the agenda as the Biden administration is now conducting a "thorough" review of USA policy toward the nation in consultation with Japan and South Korea, with it expected to be completed in "the coming weeks", according to a senior State Department official. Austin also plans to visit India after his trip to Tokyo and Seoul. The Biden administration reached out to North Korea behind the scenes last month, but Pyongyang has been unresponsive, according to US reports Sunday. It follows last week's summit of the leaders of U.S., Japan, Australia and India - the Quad alliance. "As countries in the region and beyond know, China in particular is all too willing to use coercion to get its way", they said.

Among other issues, the four ministers are expected to share concerns about the crisis in Myanmar, where the military detained State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders in a February 1 coup.

"We reached out to the North Korean government through several channels, starting in mid-February, including in NY".

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