The repercussions of the Camp David summit on China and Russia, and the formation of Asian NATO


Analyzes indicate the repercussions of the Camp David summit in Washington on China and Russia, and the possibility that it will lead to an “Asian NATO”, as is being discussed in the Chinese, Western and American media themselves. On Friday, August 18, 2023, US President Joe Biden met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yun Sok in a tripartite summit to be held for the first time. It is expected that the two Asian countries will face common security challenges. The summit is a show of strength and an effort to redraw the map of international alliances in the Indo-Pacific region, to confront North Korea. The meeting, held at the Camp David resort, also comes at a time of rising concerns about the growing Chinese influence. Here, the Camp David tripartite summit is the nucleus of a joint “US-Asian security alliance” to confront North Korea and China. The tripartite summit at Camp David is the main event, as it comes in a turbulent regional and international context, and amid tense relations with China, North Korea and Russia, and escalating global concerns about nuclear deterrence, emerging technology and climate change.

 The leaders are expected to agree to hold annual tripartite summits, to institutionalize tripartite coordination of defense, economic and diplomatic policies. The summit represents a new level of cooperation between the United States, South Korea and Japan.  Three-way talks – including three meetings between Presidents Joe Biden and Yoon Sok Yul and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in the past – have taken place on the sidelines of NATO meetings, the Southeast Asian Nations Summit and multilateral G7 meetings.

 The Camp David summit is considered a preemption and a turning point in Asian security. Despite the complexity of its agenda and the charged atmosphere it reflects regionally and globally, the governments of the three countries participating in that summit tried to work to provide the conditions for the success of that summit, by agreeing to hold several high-level tripartite meetings between the foreign, defense, security and economic policy makers of the three countries.   

  The Camp David summit has a relationship with Russia, Ukraine and North Korea, as the summit aims to go beyond just focusing on North Korea or even Asia only, at a time when Tokyo and Seoul are the two most important non-Western countries supporting Ukraine after the Russian invasion. He views the Camp David summit as a “new era in tripartite cooperation”. In addition, it is the first summit of its kind between the leaders of the three countries outside the context of a larger summit, and the first diplomatic event since the Camp David Middle East peace summit in 2015. The summit also seeks to confront North Korea’s threats, by discussing (the establishment of strong joint defenses to detect and deter ballistic missiles, drones and other offensive military systems), which the Camp David summit considers imperative to strengthen the regional defense fortress. In addition to discussing the tightening of economic sanctions and the enforcement of sanctions against Pyongyang for its defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions, with the Camp David summit emphasizing the need to support the international system based on rules in the face of North Korea.  We find that during an official visit of the South Korean leader to the United States of America in April 2023, Presidents “Biden and Yun” announced a new agreement to deter what they described as “North Korean aggression”, including a commitment by the United States of America to temporarily deploy a nuclear-armed submarine in South Korea. Here, South Korean intelligence believes that Pyongyang is preparing to show its defiance with an intercontinental ballistic missile test to coincide with the Camp David summit.

   As for the most prominent goals of the Camp David summit in the United States of America, and the possibility of it eliminating the differences between South Korea and Japan, the Camp David summit comes to focus on Beijing as a first priority, albeit with a different approach. What is the assertion that security is the core of this summit, which will deal with coordination in other issues, whether economic or political, according to an “ambitious agenda”.  But security remains the first option for that summit amid a “global geopolitical situation” full of dangers, which will push the summit towards more institutionalization of cooperation, that is, placing it within the framework of an institution according to which responsibilities and obligations are defined, and in a way that turns the alliance into a defense bloc in the near Asian periphery, which it considers these three parties participating in that summit, threatened by the Chinese and North Korean danger, especially since Pyongyang has increased its missile threats in the recent period. From here, the leaders of the three countries participating in the Camp David summit Biden, Yoon and Fumio Kishida will agree to open a new tripartite hotline, conduct regular military exercises, and hold annual tripartite summits, to institutionalize their movements.  

 The Camp David summit aims primarily to curb China’s influence, and how to limit Chinese influence and its regular military maneuvers in the region, especially around the island of Taiwan, which Beijing says is an integral part of its territory.  And the pressure exerted by China has led to a significant deterioration in the level of support for it in Japan and South Korea, which are traditionally more conservative than the United States in their statements. Until late on Thursday, corresponding to August 17, 2023, the negotiators of the three countries of the “United States of America, South Korea and Japan” were still discussing the way to refer to China in the final statement, with the summit agreement at Camp David in Washington on the need for consultation in the event of a crisis due to  China or North Korea.

 Here came the US President Joe Biden’s announcement of the Camp David summit, considering it a new security cooperation and a first-of-its-kind step with the Japanese prime minister and the South Korean president, to send a strong message to China, which expressed its dissatisfaction with holding that summit. Where that summit will be held at the Camp David presidential resort in Washington, and it was not possible to imagine it until recently, amid decades-old disputes between the two American allies, Japan and South Korea, which are bound by a treaty over the background of the Japanese occupation of the Korean Peninsula in the period 1910-1945.

Dr.Nadia Helmy
Dr.Nadia Helmy
Associate Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Politics and Economics / Beni Suef University- Egypt. An Expert in Chinese Politics, Sino-Israeli relationships, and Asian affairs- Visiting Senior Researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)/ Lund University, Sweden- Director of the South and East Asia Studies Unit


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