The US's latest significant diplomatic success over China

The US's latest significant diplomatic success over China
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From now on, the US administration wants to shift its main foreign policy focus to the Pacific. This step, taken at a time when China is struggling economically, is a heavy blow to the aggressive Chinese foreign policy.

By Cem Ozen

China and Russia are the two great enemies of the civilized world. Russia's invasion of Ukraine was an important warning of how this hostility can be implemented blatantly. The US administration has realized that it needs to organize against these two major threats and has begun to take decisive steps in this direction.

On August 18, the United States, South Korea, and Japanese leaders signed a joint declaration, an essential step. In a historic show of unity against China's expansionist policies in the region, these three countries have also succeeded in establishing common mechanisms that impose responsibilities on each other. This summit, which will determine the geopolitical destiny of the region, has become a vital mirror of the potential developments in the 21st century.

Camp David Summit

US President Joe Biden, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met on August 18 at Camp David, the summer retreat of US Presidents. The summit signed a joint text and agreed on several permanent mechanisms.

Holding the summit at Camp David has excellent symbolic significance. Camp David is the resting place of American Presidents but has also been the site of historic diplomatic negotiations. Camp David is where President Roosevelt hosted and negotiated with British Prime Minister Churchill during World War II and where the leaders of Israel and Egypt met in 1978, leading to the historic agreement. Camp David is also remembered as where Palestinian leader Arafat and Israeli leader Ehud Barak negotiated peace in 2000, a failed peace deal brokered by Bill Clinton. So, the choice of Camp David is also an essential diplomatic message.

It has not been easy for South Korea and Japan to come together. South Korea's historical animosity towards Japan has meant that the two countries' leaders have rarely met side by side. In 2017, with the election of Moon Jae-in in South Korea, relations froze again, but Yoon Suk Yeol, who took power in May 2022, paved the way for this union with his attitude toward softening ties with Japan. Close relations with Japan are unpopular in South Korean society, and Suk Yeol must face the public.

The summit is meant to counter China's expansionist and status quo-changing regional policies, and the leaders are not afraid to say so publicly. China has increased its defense budget by 7.2% this year and continues to harass Taiwan. China is also pushing North Korea, which it sometimes supports, on the ground and poses a severe security threat, especially to South Korea.

The declaration issued after the summit is entitled The Spirit of Camp David. It is not just a declaration of goodwill. According to the statement, the three countries' leaders, foreign ministers, defense ministers, and security advisors will meet annually. In addition, finance ministers trade and industry ministers will meet annually to develop economic and industrial relations. Establishing a red line for emergencies through a trilateral mechanism was also agreed. The three countries will also conduct military exercises in the region every year. The US has deep military ties with each of these countries. The US has 80,000 troops in Japan and South Korea, but this is the first time a trilateral mechanism has been established.

After the summit, Biden said this was the beginning of a new era and underlined that they are building on decades of unity. The American administration is emphasizing the institutionalization of the agreement. The Obama administration also tried to bring the three countries together, but these efforts were in vain with the election of Trump in the US and Moon Jae-in in South Korea. The Biden administration is emphasizing that this unity should be permanent and institutionalized.

This agreement is the latest step in America's policy of uniting regional allies against China. The US had previously established the so-called Quad Security Dialogue (Quad for short) with Australia, India, and Japan and launched the AUKUS mechanism with Australia and the UK.

The Chinese leadership has not hesitated to react directly to the creation of an open bloc against it. Chinese leader Xi Jinping accused Western countries of pursuing a policy of containment against China and trying to hinder China's development. An analysis in the Global Times reflecting China's official views said the US was trying to build a mini-Asian NATO. The article warned/threatened Seoul and Tokyo that they were leading themselves to disaster by following America's lead.

New Cold War

The Camp David summit was a spectacular success of American diplomacy. The diplomatic architecture established by the Biden-Blinken administration enabled the three countries to sign an institutional alliance against China. The agreement and the mechanisms established a tremendous legal and political infrastructure for the steps to be taken in the following years.

The agreement also paved the way for the skillful use of many political symbols. The fact that the summit was held at Camp David, that the declaration was called the Spirit of Camp David, that China and Russia were confronted diplomatically and by name, and that a purely institutional and supra-governmental mechanism was established all add to the summit's importance.

China will be the US's rival in the 21st century. China's economic growth also poses political and geopolitical threats. China's entire foreign policy is based on disrupting the status quo. Seeking to end Taiwan's independence, China is trying to make regional countries, especially Japan and South Korea, dependent on its foreign policy. China wants to pressure India in South Asia through its strategic cooperation with Pakistan and does not hesitate to use all illegal means to destabilize Western democracies.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has exposed how authoritarian regimes can antagonize the global system and Western democracies. If Russia had been able to take over Ukraine, China's invasion intentions against Taiwan would have been even more appetizing. Western democracies now better understand the importance of military cooperation and regional geopolitical alliances alongside dialogue to protect themselves. The Camp David agreement is an excellent example of how to come together when necessary.

Another achievement of Camp David was institutionalizing the mechanism between the three countries. At a time when the world's democracies are battling anti-institutionalist currents under the pressure of populism, the creation of independent mechanisms that are not dependent on individuals or conjunctures is also a heavy blow to populist-leaning foreign policy. Even if Trump wins the 2024 elections, legal and diplomatic mechanisms that are difficult to undermine have been established.

The success of US diplomacy was an essential step towards stopping China. From now on, the US administration wants to shift its main foreign policy focus to the Pacific. This step, taken at a time when China is struggling economically, is a heavy blow to the aggressive Chinese foreign policy. The US has won another victory against China in the diplomatic war.

*On August 28, 2023, the article was posted in Turkish on It has been condensed in accordance with the original and translated into English for Gerceknews.