Biden to push South Korea to take a tough line with China at the summit

The U.S. is trying to convince Moon Jae-in to agree to a strong statement of concern about China if the South Korean leader becomes the second world leader to meet Joe Biden in Washington on Friday.

The White House wants the Moon to return the firm speech in a joint statement issued during the summit, as part of its strategy to work with allies. to counter China, according to five people familiar with the situation.

But four of the people familiar with the talks between the White House and the Blue House, Seoul’s presidential mansion, said Moon refused to include speech that would provoke a sharp response from Beijing.

South Korea is expected to agree to include speech about the work the “Quad”, a group in the US, Japan, India and Australia seeking to curb Chinese influence. But Seoul is only seeking a passing reference to avoid angering China, which has hurt the U.S. and other Quad members to cooperate.

While South Korea has a reliable alliance in the U.S., it has long resisted the pressure more openly facing China. During the Trump administration, it refused against U.S. requests to shut down South Korean companies. worked with Huawei, the telecoms champion in China.

Seoul continues to be wary of provoking a backlash after dealing with South Korean companies Boycotts in China in 2017 in response to the deployment of the U.S. Thaad missile defense system.

“South Koreans have nightmares about a lot of Thaad-type punishments,” said Victor Cha, a South Korea expert at Georgetown University and former White House official. “Seoul doesn’t want to make difficult choices with China, but non -decision -making – hedging – is not a long -term strategy. It has weakened the alliance and angered China.”

Biden puts a premium on strengthening alliances to create more leverage in China. At his summit with Yoshihide Suga last month, he convinced the Japanese prime minister to give a statement of support for Taiwan in the face of the invasion of the Chinese.

Suga agreed with the language – the first such statement in five decades – despite Tokyo’s concerns about economic retaliation from China.

The White House did not expect the Moon to go to Light. But someone said the U.S. was “pushing hard” for China’s more difficult language. The second man said Biden hoped Moon would be better prepared because he had been given the privilege of the second summit of the personal administration in Washington.

Seoul is asking the U.S. for Covid-19 vaccines to address supply restrictions. It proposed a “vaccination plan” that would involve providing U.S. vaccines in the near term and reinstating them at a later date.

The White House declined to comment on the South Korean discussions. The Blue House declined to comment on U.S. pressure on China.

Moon also hopes to win commitments from Biden about how the U.S. president intends to provide it. nuclear threat from North Korea after Trump and Kim Jong Un, the dictator of North Korea, held three meaningless meetings.

The Moon administration has pushed Biden to ease international sanctions on Pyongyang or enforce them with more rapid change. put Kim back on the table for nuclear talk.

The Biden administration recently completed a review of North Korea’s policy, with the president’s team signaling that he is open to continuing diplomatic contact again but sanctions will continue until Kim takes a significant step forward. in denuclearization.

Seoul also wants Biden to name an envoy for North Korea, but someone familiar with the situation said the White House is divided on candidates, suggesting that an announcement concurrent with the summit is unlikely.

Executives from Companies in South Korea will accompany the Washington Moon, and is expected to make announcements about U.S. investment in semiconductors, batteries and electric vehicles.

catheter Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter

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