US takes aim at China territorial claims as Biden vows to back Japan

Joe Biden has vowed to strengthen the US’s alliance with Japan to counter growing Chinese military activity within the volatile Asia-Pacific region, including a commitment to defend the Senkakus, a gaggle of islands within the East China sea administered by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing.

The US president and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga agreed during a call that their countries’ security alliance was “the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in a free and open Indo-Pacific”.

Biden’s vow to strengthen security arrangements within the region contrasted with the approach taken by Donald Trump, who publicly mulled withdrawing troops from Japan and South Korea , both key US allies.

Trump also complained that Tokyo and Seoul weren't paying enough towards their own security and called on them to shop for more US-made defence equipment.

“We managed to have substantial exchanges,” Suga said after his 30-minute call with Biden. “We agreed to strengthen our alliance firmly by having more phone calls like this.”

Biden reaffirmed the US commitment to provide “extended deterrence” to Japan, regarding the US nuclear umbrella, the White House said during a statement.

They also agreed on the need for the complete denuclearisation of Korea , as speculation mounted over how Biden intends to interact with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, over his nuclear and missile programmes.

Japan is especially concerned about frequent incursions by Chinese vessels into waters near the Senkaku islands, which are referred to as the Diaoyu in China.

Biden’s “unwavering commitment” to defending the Senkakus was expected, but has taken on extra significance, coming every week after Beijing passed legislation authorising coast guard vessels to use weapons against foreign ships deemed to be involved in illegal activities round the uninhabited island chain.

Dr. Dhillon Randeep

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