Vedant Patel, deputy spokesperson for the state department, made the remark when asked about possible Chinese retaliation against U.S. allies amid heightening competition between Washington and Beijing.
“We certainly are not going to preview or get ahead of any actions or destinations from here, but we will continue to work in lockstep with our allies and partners in the region and across the globe, including the Republic of Korea, and we will continue to take prudent steps that we believe are integral to peace, prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world,” the spokesperson told a daily press briefing, referring to Korea by its official name.
His remark comes amid concerns in Seoul that China may seek to economically retaliate against Korea for President Yoon Suk Yeol’s recent state visit to the United States where he and U.S. President Joe Biden reached a historic agreement, dubbed the Washington Declaration, that allows increased frequency of deployment of U.S. strategic assets to and around the Korean Peninsula.
Patel suggested that the declaration may be part of the “prudent steps” that are integral to maintaining peace and stability in the region.
“The most recent state visit that the administration hosted, in which we hosted the Republic of Korea President Yoon, you saw a number of steps and active policies come out of that, including the Washington declaration,” he said. “So we will continue to pursue those lines of efforts.”
The department spokesperson also emphasized the importance of trilateral cooperation between the United States, Korea and Japan to counter potential economic coercion by China.
“There are of course benefits to working through these issues in a bilateral mechanism. There is of course benefit to working these issues trilaterally as well,” said Patel when asked if the three countries should form an alliance to deal with potential retaliation by China.
“We have important, close partnerships with both the ROK and Japan. We also have important work to be done in trilateral auspices as well. The secretary has had the opportunity to engage his foreign minister counterparts, both in a bilateral setting, as well as trilaterally, and we will continue to do so,” he added.