Japan, U.S., South Korea Hold Indo-Pacific Dialogue; Beijing Criticized for Moves in South China Sea

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Flags of Japan, South Korea and the United States are seen at a foreign ministers meeting in 2018.

WASHINGTON — Senior government officials for Japan, the United States and South Korea held the first Trilateral Indo-Pacific Dialogue on Friday in Washington. They hope to use the talks to deter China as it makes increasingly hegemonic moves.

The dialogue’s joint statement, released by the U.S. State Department on Saturday, expressed concern about China’s coercive behavior in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea.

The joint statement said that the three countries “opposed any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion anywhere in the waters of the Indo-Pacific.”

Ahead of Taiwan’s presidential election on Jan. 13, the three countries reaffirmed that peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait are “indispensable to security and prosperity in the international community.”

As for the territorial dispute between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea, the joint statement said that Beijing’s behavior is “dangerous and escalatory,” and the three countries made clear their stance to support “the freedom of navigation and overflight” based on international laws.

The three countries also accused North Korea of developing nuclear weapons and missiles, and of military cooperation with Russia, including by supplying Moscow with ballistic missiles.

The meeting was attended by Yasuhiro Kobe, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Foreign Policy Bureau; Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant secretary of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs; and Chung Byung-won, deputy minister for political affairs for the South Korean Foreign Ministry.