The White House came out in support of strong ties among East Asian states yesterday, but emphasized Japan–South Korea ties more than better relations between Japan and China.
I read the reference to the United States’ “two key allies in East Asia, Japan and the ROK” as a way of emphasizing the continued distance between the United States and China. The statement could easily have been worded to emphasize strong ties between all three without introducing this element.
The full statement:
President Bush is encouraged by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s planned visit to the People’s Republic of China on October 8 and to the Republic of Korea (ROK) on October 9. The United States places utmost importance on close cooperation between its two key allies in East Asia, Japan and the ROK. Stronger bilateral ties enable closer trilateral U.S.-Japan-ROK cooperation, which only strengthens our mutual partnerships based on common values of democracy and freedom. Cooperation between Japan and China is also critical to dealing with the common challenges we face in Asia. Strong relations among these key nations in Asia can enrich the vibrant social and economic exchanges already taking place, and contribute to the region’s security.
The President supports the efforts of Prime Minister Abe and looks forward to continuing the strong relationship between the United States and Japan for the cause of peace, prosperity, and freedom in Asia and the world.