Religious freedom on Blinken’s agenda during first trip abroad
Landing in Japan this morning, Secretary of State Antony Blinken kicked off the first in a series of meetings with key U.S. allies in Asia. He is accompanied by the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin. Blinken’s four days in Japan and South Korea are widely seen as an attempt to highlight the United States’ strong partnerships in the region.
Blinken’s tour will wrap up in Alaska, where he and President Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, will meet with two senior Chinese diplomats. The visit to Japan and South Korea is Blinken’s first foreign trip since assuming his current position in January; the meeting in Alaska will be the administration’s first with China.
The timing of the meeting with China right on the heels of Blinken’s meetings with Japan and South Korea is no accident. The timing is intended to send a message to China that the United States and its allies in the region will be unified in pushing back against China’s aggression, both internationally and against its own people.
The meetings in Japan and South Korea follow meetings last week by the “Quad,” a semi-formal coalition between the United States, Japan, India, and Australia. The coalition has gathered off and on since 2007, serving as a democratic counterweight to China’s authoritarianism and regional assertiveness.