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POTUS Asia Trip: Key Things To Know

Updated: May 24, 2022

President Biden completed his trip to South Korea and Japan. Below is a quick rundown of the key policy-related matters.

U.S. Investment Announcement

On the eve of the trip, Hyundai announced that it will make $10 billion in investments in the United States into 2025, including $5.4 billion in new electric vehicle (EV) and battery manufacturing facilities in Georgia. The EV facility, in Bryan County, Georgia, will break ground in early 2023, will begin commercial production in the first half of 2025, and will have an annual capacity of 300,000 units.

There were no other major new U.S. investment announcements, though the President did see a South Korea-based facility that may mirror a new Texas semiconductor manufacturing facility of Samsung announced last November.

Defense of Taiwan

During a press conference, a U.S. reporter asked the President: “Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that? The President answered: “ Yes, it is a commitment we made.” Soon after, the Administration clarified that U.S. policy has not changed with respect to military support of Taiwan by the United States; that, U.S. commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act remain the same – i.e., providing Taiwan with the means to defend itself.

China subsequently released a statement by a Foreign Ministry spokesman: “No one should underestimate the strong determination, firm will, and strong ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Economy & Trade

The Biden Administration is generally not pursuing any comprehensive, multilateral trade agreement such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiated by the Obama Administration (and dropped by the Trump Administration) during this Asia trip, or otherwise. Instead, the Administration is focusing on “bilateral” and “trilateral” ministerial and commercial dialogues, among other methods, to gradually advance trade goals. The Administration claims that at some point discussions with Asia partners will yield documented agreements in some form.

The centerpiece of action on economy/trade within this trip is a multilateral agreement to collaborate going forward within a specific “framework.” The Indo-Pacific Framework on Prosperity includes the following four pillars:

  1. Connected Economy. Engage on ‘rules of the road’ in the digital economy such as standards on cross-border data flows and data localization; address issues is such as online privacy and discriminatory and unethical use of Artificial Intelligence; labor and environment standards; and corporate accountability provisions.

  2. Resilient Economy. Seek supply chain commitments to better anticipate and prevent disruptions in supply chains to create a more resilient economy and guard against price spikes including through an early warning system, mapping critical mineral supply chains, improving sector traceability, and coordinating on diversification efforts.

  3. Clean Economy. Seek commitments on clean energy, decarbonization, and infrastructure that promote good-paying jobs, including “concrete, high-ambition targets” to accelerate climate crisis efforts in areas of renewable energy, carbon removal, energy efficiency standards, and new measures to combat methane emissions.

  4. Fair Economy. Seek commitments to “enact and enforce” tax, anti-money laundering, and anti-bribery regimes, to include provisions on the exchange of tax information, the criminalization of bribery, and the effective implementation of beneficial ownership recommendations to strengthen our efforts to crack down on corruption.

Other notable actions on the economy and trade include:

  • U.S.-Japan “discussed a joint effort” on more effective and agile export controls on critical technologies, including microelectronics and cyber surveillance systems, to address the misuse of critical technologies by malicious actors and inappropriate transfers of emerging technologies.

  • Both U.S.-Japan and U.S.-South Korea discussions mentioned current and future collaborations on 5G technology supplier concerns and Open RAN efforts.

  • U.S.-South Korea agreed to establish a regular ministerial-level Supply Chain and Commercial Dialogue to discuss promotion of resilient supply chains of key products, including semiconductors, batteries, and critical minerals.

  • US.-South Korea committed to greater nuclear energy collaboration and to accelerate the development and global deployment of advanced reactors and small modular reactors. The U.S. also welcomed South Korea’s decision to join the U.S.-led Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) program.

  • U.S.-Japan outlined current/future cooperation on various technology, energy, and business-oriented climate matters, and the White House articulated these in a separate U.S.-Japan Climate Partnership Fact Sheet.

  • U.S.-Japan said they are “partnering” on a new undersea telecommunications cable to improve telecommunications in the Indo-Pacific region.

Countering China

Asia Quad countries announced a new maritime surveillance effort called the "Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness" (IPMDA). The countries – the United States, Australia, India and Japan – say they “will offer a near-real-time, integrated, and cost-effective maritime domain awareness picture” to country partners for three regions —the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region.

IPMDA will use commercial Automatic Identification System (AIS) and radio-frequency technologies to provide domain awareness information to information fusion centers including the Information Fusion Center-Indian Ocean Region, based in India; the Information Fusion Center, based in Singapore; the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, based in the Solomon Islands, and the Pacific Fusion Center, based in Vanuatu.

While the central purpose of the Quad is to counter the rising security threat of China in the Pacific, the U.S. fact sheet on this matter does not mention China, and highlights that the IPMDA will help address dark shipping (where ships turn off AIS), illegal fishing, and responding to climate and humanitarian events. It is likely, however, that this effort has a direct connection towards helping countries in the Pacific monitor the movement of Chinese vessels of any nature.

Among the related leader statements released:

  • Prime Minister Kishida and President Biden expressed opposition to China’s unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea; reiterated strong opposition to China’s unlawful maritime claims, militarization of reclaimed features, and coercive activities in the South China Sea.

  • President Yoon and President Biden reaffirmed commitment to freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful use of the seas, including in the South China Sea and beyond.

  • President Yoon and President Biden reiterated the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait as an essential element in security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

  • Prime Minister Kishida and President Biden reiterated opposition to any unilateral action that seeks to undermine Japan’s longstanding administration of the Senkaku Islands.

Countering the DPRK (North Korea) Nuclear Threat

Among the leader statements released:

  • President Biden affirmed the U.S. extended deterrence commitment to the ROK (South Korea) using the full range of U.S. defense capabilities, including nuclear, conventional, and missile defense capabilities.

  • President Yoon outlined his vision to normalize inter-Korean relationship through an “audacious plan” aimed at a denuclearized and prosperous Korean peninsula.

  • President Yoon and President Biden committed to reactivate the high-level Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group at the earliest date.

  • President Yoon and President Biden committed to initiate discussions to expand the scope and scale of combined military exercises and training on and around the Korean Peninsula; and reaffirmed the commitment of the U.S. to identify new or additional steps to reinforce deterrence in the face of DPRK destabilizing activities.

  • President Yoon and President Biden condemned the DPRK’s escalatory ballistic missile tests this year, including multiple launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles and reaffirmed their commitment to work with the international community to urge the DPRK to abandon its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.

  • Prime Minister Kishida and President Biden condemned North Korea’s advancing nuclear and missile development activities, including its recent ICBM launches, and reaffirmed their commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

  • Prime Minister Kishida and President Biden requested that China contribute to arrangements that reduce nuclear risks, increase transparency, and advance nuclear disarmament.

Countering Russia

Among the leader statements released:

  • Prime Minister Kishida and President Biden called on China to stand with the international community and unequivocally condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

  • Prime Minister Kishida and President Biden expressed concern about the increasing activities of Russian military forces around Japan, and committed to remain attentive to cooperation between China and Russia in military affairs.

Regional Humanitarian Issues

Among the leader statements released:

  • President Yoon and President Biden reaffirmed commitment to facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable North Koreans, and expressed willingness to work with the international community to provide assistance to the DPRK to combat the COVID-19 virus.

  • President Yoon and President Biden condemned the coup in Myanmar and the military’s attacks on civilians; call on Myanmar to immediately cease violence, release those the detained, permit unfettered countrywide humanitarian access, and swiftly return to democracy; and call on all nations to provide safe haven to Burmese nationals and prohibit arms sales to Myanmar.

  • Prime Minister Kishida and President Biden condemned the coup in Myanmar and the Myanmar military’s brutal attacks on civilians; and committed to continue taking action to press for the immediate cessation of violence, the release of all those who are wrongfully detained, unfettered countrywide humanitarian access, and a swift return to democracy.


  • The United States and Japan announced that they are committed to a Japanese astronaut opportunity on the Gateway, a human outpost in the lunar vicinity, as part of expanding Artemis collaboration.

  • The United States and Japan also announced continued progress on our Artemis collaboration for human and robotic lunar surface missions, including a shared ambition to see a future Japanese astronaut on the lunar surface.

Among the leader statements released:

  • President Yoon and President Biden agreed to foster joint research in space exploration and to support the ROK’s development of the Korean Positioning System (KPS).

  • President Yoon and President Biden agreed to strengthen space industry cooperation including through the bilateral space policy dialogue and defense space partnerships, including through joint exercises.

Japan Security

Among the leader statements released:

  • President Biden reiterated support for Japan’s permanent membership on a reformed Security Council of the United Nations, and for other countries who are important champions of multilateral cooperation and aspire to permanent seats.

  • President Biden reiterated the U.S. commitment to the defense of Japan under the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, backed by the full range of capabilities, including nuclear.

  • Prime Minister Kishida stated his determination to fundamentally reinforce Japan’s defense capabilities and secure substantial increase of its defense budget needed to effect it.


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