Economy and security are inseparable in Asia

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in Tokyo on May 24 for the Quad Leaders Summit.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Tokyo – Security pact is important, but in Asia, money talks.

Australia, India, Japan and the United States concluded their second Quad Leaders Summit in Tokyo on Tuesday, following a weekend visit to South Korea by US President Joe Biden.

The Quad countries and others in Asia have made it clear in the last five days that while things like maritime defense are important, real security needs to be focused on the economic needs and wants of Asian countries.

The Quad is an informal security arrangement for the four major democracies in response to China’s growing power in the Indo-Pacific region. Ahead of the group’s first Leaders Summit last September, CNBC reported, the quad seeks to branch out in areas including technology, trade, the environment and epidemic response.

The Biden administration has tried to show that economic priorities can be resolved within quads, between countries, or as part of a new, multilateral system – although the United States has not gone as far as all of its Asian partners. I want.

Mr. President, Today we live in an age of economic security, where economic security and vice versa.

Eun Seok-yul

President, South Korea

“The focus is now on establishing an overlapping multilateral relationship that works at Meshwork,” said Jonathan Grady, founding head of the forecasting firm The Canary Group. “The players involved are often the same, but we see them participating in different groupings, ranging from security to economic problems. There is strength in numbers.”

South Korea

The new South Korean president, Eun Seok-yul Biden, was shown around a Samsung semiconductor facility and later explained that in South Korea’s view, the concept of security was a broader issue than just the military.

“Mr. President, today we live in an age of economic security, where the economy is secure and vice versa,” Yoon said, translating his remarks.

Ali Wayne, a senior analyst at Eurasia Group’s Global Macro Practice, says the concepts of defense and economic stability are intertwined – from a South Korean perspective – and from many parts of Asia.

“The President’s statement spreads the painful experience of the last two and a half years: the coronavirus epidemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine show how severely disrupted production and distribution of essential medicines, crude oil and agricultural inputs, among other products, weakens the global economy.” “It also confirms the need for the United States to increase its economic competitiveness in the region.”

Indo-Pacific Economic Framework

In fact, economic competition is where the United States faces a formidable challenge from China, which has larger trade relations with most Asian countries – including members of the Quad – than the United States.

As part of its efforts to address that deficit, the United States and 12 Asian countries on Monday announced the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, or IPEF, an agreement designed to lay the groundwork for a digital economy and regulation around the supply chain in the region.

The IPEF is not a trade agreement, and it does not include a security element. Significantly, it does not offer any new level of access to US markets for the group’s developing countries, including Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

In the long run, this can be a problem. Earlier this month, when CNBC was asked what it wanted most from the IPEF, Arzad Rasjid, chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, did not cut short: “Number one is access to the US market.”

“At the end of the day, what we want is … economic growth, cooperation to improve trade,” Rasjid said. “What we’re seeing is that we can do a lot more together. That’s a positive sign. But I hope it’s not just politics, but action? It’s more important.”

Biden, on the one hand, is threading a needle in trying to increase America’s relevance in Asia, and on the other, trying to avoid annoying U.S. voters – both left and right – against the trade deal.

Washington’s official statement indicates a lot. On Monday, National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan said the IPEF was “part of President Biden’s commitment to keep American families and workers at the center of our economic and foreign policy, while strengthening our ties with allies and partners to promote shared prosperity.”

Other countries in the IPEF include quad members Australia, India and Japan, as well as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.

Taiwan

The issue of pure security is still important in Asia.

Biden made the biggest headline of the summit – perhaps inadvertently – when he said that the United States would be willing to defend Taiwan militarily if China invaded.

Asked by a reporter if the United States was willing to use its military to help Taiwan, contrary to its view of Ukraine, Biden said, “Yes.”

Mr. President, Today we live in an age of economic security, where economic security and vice versa.

Eun Seok-yul

President of South Korea

“That’s what we’re committed to. We’re not. Look, here’s the situation. We agree with the one-China policy. We’ve signed it and we’ve signed all the attendance agreements from there,” the president said. “But the idea that it can be used by force, just by force, is not appropriate. It will displace the whole region and be another step similar to what happened in Ukraine.”

Taiwan is a self-governing democracy, but Beijing considers the island part of China. The official American position is that there is “one China.” Informal American policy is called “strategic ambiguity”, where the United States avoids saying in one way or another how far it can go to protect Taiwan.

Biden’s statement ended much of the ambiguity, but U.S. officials said behind bidding that government policy had not changed. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has sought to clarify that Biden “reaffirmed our commitment to that policy and to the peace and stability of the Taiwanese system.

Beijing was not it.

“No one should underestimate the determination, determination and determination of the Chinese people to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity and stand against the 1.4 billion Chinese people,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

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