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World

US, Japan plan 5G push with eye on China in Biden's first summit

  • The pullout will "free up time and attention and resources from our senior leadership and our military to focus on what we believe are the fundamental challenges in the 21st century and they lie fundamentally in the Indo-Pacific," the official said.
16 Apr 2021

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Friday receives Japan's prime minister for his first in-person summit, with the leaders expected to announce a $2 billion 5G initiative as part of a concerted US push to compete with China.

Biden's decision to invite Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga as his first guest -- with South Korean President Moon Jae-in set to come in May -- reflects his renewed priority on US alliances as he zeroes in on a rising China as America's most pressing challenge.

A senior US official said that technology leader Japan would announce a "very substantial commitment" of $2 billion in partnership with the United States "to work on 5G and next steps beyond."

China's Huawei has taken an early dominance in fifth-generation internet, which is becoming an increasingly crucial part of the global economy, despite heavy US pressure on the company, which Washington argues poses threats to security and privacy in the democratic world.

The official said Biden will also speak to Japan about its climate goals as the US prepares to hold a virtual summit on climate change next week.

And the official said they will discuss growing tensions over Taiwan as the island has reported growing penetration of its airspace by Beijing, which claims the self-governing democracy.

"Neither country is seeking to raise tensions or to provoke China, but at the same time we're trying to send a clear signal that some of the steps that China is taking," the official said, are "antithetical to the mission of maintaining peace and stability."

While the timing was coincidental, the official said it was appropriate that Suga was visiting two days after Biden made the momentous decision to withdraw from Afghanistan after 20 years, ending the longest-ever US war.

The pullout will "free up time and attention and resources from our senior leadership and our military to focus on what we believe are the fundamental challenges in the 21st century and they lie fundamentally in the Indo-Pacific," the official said.

"The United States can only be effective in Asia when the US-Japan relationship is strong and Japan is steady and stable," he said.