PYEONGTAEK, South Korea – President Biden landed in South Korea on Friday for his first official visit to Asia, beginning a five-day tour designed to underscore his administration’s diplomatic and economic commitment to the region in the face of a growing China. .
His remarks came as his administration struggled with the economic and political implications of rising inflation in the United States, with Biden planning to sue if the law would ultimately strengthen the supply chain and lower costs for consumers.
With Biden’s visit to the region, China has brought North Korea closer than ever
Along with newly inaugurated South Korean President Eun Sook-eol, Biden will also visit a Samsung facility that will serve as a model for a plant the company is building in Texas – a sample of the president’s “foreign policy for the middle class” policy that has guided his administration.
But Biden will face a number of other challenges during his Asia tour. According to intelligence from Washington, Seoul and Tokyo, North Korea’s visit began earlier this week amid signs that it was preparing for a nuclear test or long-range ballistic missile test. However, it would be unusual for the US president to test North Korea’s missiles while on the Korean Peninsula.
Nonetheless, the potential missile test points to North Korea’s lack of progress in its nuclear disarmament efforts, which have led to an aggressive expansion of its weapons program since the collapse of diplomatic talks with the United States in 2019. North Korea has demanded the lifting of sanctions before agreeing to talks, and the Biden administration has indicated no interest in withdrawing them.
Biden’s visit will serve as an important preliminary test of the leadership of the UN, which took office 10 days ago.
Biden’s visit will be the first meeting of heads of state for the UN, a first-time politician who has no foreign policy experience. According to local media reports, this is the first visit of a US president to the South Korean presidency at such an early stage.
The key to UN policy is to strengthen the US-South Korean alliance and play a stronger role on the global stage as the world’s 10th largest economy, rather than just setting foreign policy goals related to the country’s volatile neighbor in the North.
Commenting on the meeting between the two leaders, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said, “It will be an opportunity to build that relationship from the ground up.”
The trip to Samsung Electronics highlights the growing role South Korea is playing in managing its travel semiconductor supply chain, which the United States has sought to strengthen as it seeks to rely on China for semiconductor and other technologies.
Eun said he wanted South Korea to increase its economic and strategic commitment to expanding its alliance with the United States outside of military coordination. Eun is expected to announce that South Korea will join the US-proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which seeks to strengthen American economic cooperation with countries in the region and is partly designed to counter China’s influence.
But South Korea is still economically dependent on China, its largest trading partner and the president’s office has already rushed to make it clear that Seoul does not want to exclude Beijing from the global supply chain.
Although Yoon has indicated that he will take a hard line against China, especially on human rights issues, it remains to be seen whether his actions will match his rhetoric.
Lee and Kim reported from Seoul.