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Blinken with Pacific trip aims to reaffirm U.S. focus on Asia

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Washington — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken aims to travel to the Pacific this week, leaving Washington’s strategic long-term focus on the Asia-Pacific region, despite the growing crisis with Russia over Ukraine. It reminds the world of that.

Brinken departs for Australia, Fiji and Hawaii on Monday to meet with major allies and reaffirm its commitment to oppose what the United States calls China’s growing economic and military “coercion.” It’s a schedule.

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This week’s highlight is a meeting of informal groups of Australia, India, Japan and the United States known as the Quad, working to advance diplomatic efforts on North Korea, and U.S. officials believe China wants. A discussion of concerns about the Pacific Islands. Establish a base.

The Brinken trip will take place a few days after China and Russia have declared an “unrestricted” strategic partnership https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russia-china-tell-nato-stop- expansion-moscow-backs-beijing-taiwan- 2022-02-04 The opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics. The United States is engaged in the Beijing Olympics diplomatic boycott https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/us-officials-boycott-beijing-olympics-cnn-2021-12-06.

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It made the most detailed and assertive statement that China and Russia would work together against the United States to build a new international order based on its own interpretation of human rights and democracy.

Daniel Krittenblink, the State Department’s chief diplomat in East Asia, accused Chinese President Xi Jinping of a briefing with journalists prior to Blinken’s trip and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday. He said it should have been an opportunity to ease tensions. Ukraine.

China and Russia have promised mutual protection of their core interests. This is a clear reference to Russia and Ukraine, and Taiwan, the autonomous island that Beijing claims to be its own country. Their joint statement condemned the US move against China through AUKUS, an agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom to provide Australia with nuclear submarines.

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“Keep focus”

Charles Edel, an Asian and Australian expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said Brinken traveled to Australia despite the conflict with the Russians against Ukraine and the fierce diplomacy between NATO members. He said he was.

“His trip emphasizes how important and challenging it is for Washington to stay focused on the Indo-Pacific,” Edel said.

Sino-US relations are at their lowest levels in decades, as the top two countries in the world disagree on many issues, including the treatment of the Uighurs in China in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and the South China Sea. Since the end of the Cold War, the possibility of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the most serious threat of massive conflict in Europe, only complicates the matter.

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The upcoming quad conference in Melbourne will discuss ways to advance goals such as climate policy and the provision of the COVID-19 vaccine to Southeast Asia prior to the May summit in Japan, where President Joe Biden will attend. Is expected.

Meetings between the Prime Minister of Fiji and leaders of the Pacific Islands are expected to put climate policy and the security and stability of the Pacific region at the forefront. China’s ambitions in the region will also emerge.

“The speed and scope of China’s approach to the Pacific Islands has been a call for awakening,” said a US diplomat in East Asia during the former President Barack Obama’s administration, who is currently a think tank at the Institute for Policy Studies of the Asian Association. Daniel Russell said.

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A member of the Pacific Islands Republic of Kiribati said last year that China had planned to upgrade its runway on one of the remote islands about 1,860 miles (3,000 km) from Hawaii. This will provide a foothold deep in the territory where China has worked closely with the United States and its allies since World War II.

The United States said the AUKUS Agreement and expanding quad cooperation show the commitment of the Indo-Pacific.

However, analysts have decided that former President Donald Trump’s decision to end the trading framework now known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement (CPTPP) has led many countries to make China a major trading partner. He said he continued to weaken US involvement with the counting regions.

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“The timing and content of the QUAD ministers is driven by a common agenda for the four countries: defeating China by providing realistic and better alternatives to the region,” Russell said.

Biden told Asian leaders in October that the United States would begin negotiations on a new Indo-Pacific economic framework, but little details have been revealed and his administration will expand market access desired by Asian countries. Hesitates to offer, and sees this threatening US employment.

In Hawaii, Blinken will host the Japanese and Korean counterparts. Their discussion is expected to revolve around North Korea, which launched a large number of missiles this year, raising concerns that it may return to testing intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs for the first time since 2017. ing.

(Report by Humeyra Pamuk and David Brunnstrom; edited by Will Dunham)

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