News Joe Biden visits Samsung factory in first trip to Asia as US president

Joe Biden visits Samsung factory in first trip to Asia as US president

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Joe Biden’s first stop on his inaugural trip to Asia as US president was a massive Samsung Electronics semiconductor plant, underscoring a message of economic security with an eye on China and the war in Ukraine.

Mr Biden landed at the US military’s Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, and immediately drove to Samsung’s nearby factory, the largest semiconductor plant in the world.

There he greeted South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, a relative newcomer to politics, for the first time in person.

Advanced chips for functions such as mobile, 5G, high-performance computing and artificial intelligence have become a focal point of competition with China and concerns over global supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Economic shockwaves from Russia’s war in Ukraine have further spotlighted the need to secure critical supply chains so the US economy and national security are not dependent on countries “that don’t share our values”, Mr Biden said in remarks at the plant on Friday.

“The critical component of how we’ll do that in my view is by working with close partners that do share our values, like the Republic of Korea.”

Mr Biden said the future would be written in the Indo-Pacific and now was the time for the United States and like-minded partners to invest in each other.

The two leaders toured the plant, which the White House called a model for a new $US17 billion ($24 billion) factory that Samsung plans to build in Taylor, Texas.

“With today’s visit, I hope that Korea-US relations will be reborn as an economic and security alliance based on high-tech and supply chain cooperation,” Mr Yoon said.

As Mr Biden’s meetings continue on Saturday, the weighty issue of North Korea is expected to top the agenda.

Leader Kim Jong-un abandoned a freeze on intercontinental ballistic missile testing and appears poised to resume testing of nuclear bombs, perhaps while Mr Biden is in the region.