On Aug. 18, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden met at Camp David for a trilateral meeting.

Afterwards, they publicly stated they shared a vision for their partnership and the Indo-Pacific. They declared that this partnership was based on “a bedrock of shared values, mutual respect and a unified commitment to advance the prosperity of our three countries, the region and the globe,” while resisting other unilateral attempts (meaning China) to change the status quo by force or coercion. The resulting Camp David Principles listed several liberal norms based on trust, respecting human rights, free and open economic economics and other promises.

These ideas sound pleasing in a briefing on the White House website, the South Korean Presidential Office website or the Prime Minister of Japan’s website. Multiple journalists and scholars have noted that the agreement significantly shifted East Asian geopolitics; the summit has been described as historic and a new era in trilateral relations. Others have been skeptical for a number of reasons.