The United States prevailed on Japan and South Korea on Friday to use their strongest language yet in a joint statement to condemn China’s “dangerous and aggressive actions” in the South China Sea.
In the Korean version of a Camp David summit joint statement seen by Reuters, the three countries committed to consult promptly with each other during crises and to coordinate responses to regional challenges, provocations and threats affecting common interests.
The statement also committed to hold trilateral military training exercises annually and to share real-time information on North Korean missile launches by the end of 2023. The countries promised to hold trilateral summits annually as well.
U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday earlier welcomed the leaders of South Korea and Japan to a summit at Camp David aimed at bolstering ties as the three countries seek to project unity in the face of China’s rise and nuclear threats from North Korea.
The statement said the three would launch a supply-chain early warning system pilot project to expand information-sharing and fight economic coercion together.
On their response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the leaders agreed to continue supporting Kiev and to maintain strong, coordinated sanctions against Moscow, while also aiming to further curb dependence on Russian energy.
But it was the language on China that stood out as stronger than expected, and which is likely to provoke a response from Beijing, which is a vital trading partner for both Korea and Japan.
“Regarding the dangerous and aggressive actions we recently witnessed by the People’s Republic of China in support of its illegal maritime territorial claims in the South China Sea, we … strongly oppose any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the Indo-Pacific waters,” the statement said.