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Biden Officials Unsure About Even Mentioning China At Key International Summit

Senior officials from the U.S., South Korea and Japan are making eleventh-hour deliberations on whether to mention China by name at President Joe Biden’s key trilateral summit at Camp David on Friday, Politico reported.

Fears of retaliation from Beijing could play a role in whether the country will be referred to as an obstacle to stability in the Indo-Pacific region during Biden’s summit with foreign leaders, which aims to create a strong trilateral relationship and address increasing threats from China and North Korea, according to Politico. Both China and North Korea reacted bitterly to news of the summit and have started taking military action in the Indo-Pacific region in a show of defiance, Reuters reported on Thursday.

“One of the issues that they’re negotiating … is whether or not we’ll insert the word ‘China’ in the documents’ final text,” Hikariko Ono, Director-General for Press and Public Diplomacy at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, according to Politico. “We’re still discussing how and how much we describe China.”

South Korea is sensitive to potential retaliation from China after the country was hit with unsparing economic sanctions from Beijing in 2017 for deploying American anti-missile systems to counter threats from North Korea, according to Politico. Wang Wenbin, spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Beijing “opposes” being excluded from international relationships and told the trilateral countries to “act in line,” according to a Tuesday press conference.

“China opposes relevant countries assembling exclusionary groupings, and practices that intensify antagonism and undermine the strategic security of other countries,” Wenbin said. “China hopes that relevant countries will act in line with the trend of the times and contribute to regional peace, stability and prosperity.”

“China is ready to take all measures necessary to firmly safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Wenbin concluded.

The Biden administration hopes that the meeting with South Korea and Japan will create a “defining trilateral relationship for the 21 century,” White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

“What you will see on Friday is a very ambitious set of initiatives that seek to lock in trilateral engagement, both now and in the future,” Campbell said. “[It is] a substantial step forward in recognizing the common security picture that each of the countries are facing.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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