What you need to know
The recent Camp David summit marks a significant step in strengthening U.S. diplomatic ties with the advanced Asian countries of Japan and Korea, where they openly discuss major transnational issues.
The recent Camp David summit is a significant step in the trilateral U.S-Japan-South Korea relationship and is a strong reminder of the positive benefits of U.S-led diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific region. The Biden administration has taken a distinct position on alliances compared to previous presidential administrations. President Biden not only seeks to repair relationships, but build relationships among U.S. allies to better tackle transnational issues.
Transnational issues are problems that cross national borders and require international cooperation to solve. For countries, these include social, economic, political, criminal, and environmental issues. One prominent example is the South China Sea dispute, where many countries have overlapping territorial claims, but face the common threat of Chinese PLA aggression. The problem is that no single country can solve the issue of PLA aggression individually or solve their own security challenges alone.
Both China and Russia have sought to achieve a “divide and conquer” strategy, where other countries are too busy fighting among each other instead of a common threat. Russian disinformation campaigns have targeted NATO members to convince the public and politicians that aiding Ukraine is against the target country’s interests. China has ongoing disinformation campaigns in the Indo-Pacific but also benefits from an already tense Japan-South Korea relationship, which has prevented them from working together on resolving the North Korean nuclear threat and PLA aggression. Biden’s strategy aims to relieve the deadlock and create long-term solutions to these transnational security threats.
The Camp David Principles
Japan and South Korea have been working closely together over the past two months to improve their overall relationship. They have held a number of summits and meetings to make efforts to address historical and territorial disputes that have been straining their relationship. Although Japan and South Korea individually have strong relationships with the United States, these tensions have prevented the two from agreeing on how to respond to North Korean nuclear threats, prevented action on growing Chinese military power, and reduced intelligence sharing with each other. This lack of cooperation has made it easier for China to assert itself in the region and gives North Korea an advantage in a conflict scenario.
As a common security and economic partner between the two countries, the U.S. was able to take the lead at Camp David to bring the two countries together. Collectively, they issued the Camp David Principles on August 18, 2023, which are a set of mutually agreed upon principles that will guide their security cooperation. These principles are:
- Support a strong ASEAN and partner closely with ASEAN to advance peace in the Indo-Pacific.
- Support dialogue with North Korea and aim for denuclearization in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions.
- Promote financial stability and seek continued economic cooperation.
- Develop standard practices to guide the development, use, and transfer of critical technologies.
- Advance the protection of human rights in the region, including the full and meaningful participation of women in their societies.
The Camp David Principles represent the first step in long-term cooperation between the United States, Japan, and South Korea. What these principles do is give the alliance a set of guiding principles to follow, a set of common goals, and predictable engagement. While far from the beginning of an “Asian NATO” that Chinese media often claims, the trilateral allows South Korea and Japan to overcome historical barriers and focus instead on transnational issues to create a more secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
TNL Editor: Kim Chan (@thenewslensintl)
If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more story updates in your news feed, please be sure to follow our Facebook.