February 01, 2021 13:05
U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to carry on with a Trump-era anti-China coalition of broadly rightwing governments from around the world.
Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan last week said Washington wants to "carry forward and build on" the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad, which also involves Australia, India and Japan.
Sullivan was speaking at a virtual event hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace. "I think we really want to carry forward and build on that format, that mechanism, which we see as a foundation upon which to build substantial American policy in the Indo-Pacific region."
Korea has been hoping that pressure to join the Quad, which was intensifying toward the end of President Donald Trump's reign, would go away once Biden came in.
China is Korea's biggest trading partner and has repeatedly put the thumb screws on Seoul to stay out of American efforts to keep it in check.
Robert O'Brien, Sullivan's predecessor, also spoke at the event and boasted about the initiative. "I am glad to see that, I think, as we work together with our allies, especially with the Quad… which may be the most important relationship we have established since NATO at a high level -- I think we are going to be able to confront that challenge," O'Brien said.
The Quad, which was launched in 2019, was the core of Trump's Indo-Pacific and China containment policy. Last December they staged a combined military exercise.
The U.K. is expected to join now it has broken away from the EU, which is also reluctant to fall in line. The Mainichi Shimbun reported on Sunday that British conservatives are calling for more involvement in Asia as a result of draconian cutbacks on freedoms in its former crown colony Hong Kong.
The Daily Telegraph also said on Jan. 28 that the U.K. could join what it called the "Asian NATO" and that Prime Minister Boris Johnson could discuss the matter when he visits India soon.
Since it formally ended its EU membership last year, the U.K. has been trying to get a "back to Asia" policy under way to find new markets. It has also taken part in naval drills with the U.S. and Japan, and there were reports last month that the U.K. would send its newest aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth to the joint drill with Japan.
Kurt Campbell, the hawkish coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs on the U.S. National Security Council, has laid out a "Quad Plus" proposition calling for adding more countries to join the coalition.
But Korea seems determined to stay on the sidelines even though its two closest allies are at the forefront. "It's possible that Korea will be excluded from the remaking of the world order focusing on a club of anti-China democracies," a diplomatic source said.
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