US President Barack Obama yesterday held three-way talks with the leaders of Japan and Australia, a day after stressing that US engagement in the Asia-Pacific region is here to stay as China rises.
Obama met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the margins of the G20 summit in Brisbane, which has been shadowed by rows with Russia over the Ukraine crisis.
Before reporters were ushered out of the room, Abbott said at the beginning of the meeting: “It’s good to be here with two such economic and strategic partners.”
Obama has denied that the US is bent on thwarting China’s economic and political emergence, but on Saturday stressed that Beijing must be a responsible actor on the world stage.
The prospect of a stronger tripartite alliance will stoke fears in Beijing that Japan, the US and Australia are ganging up to limit its increasingly assertive expansion in the region.
China has repeatedly warned of what it says is the danger of Japan “remilitarizing” under Abe, and regularly lambasts Tokyo for its apparent lack of repentance for misdeeds before and during World War II.
Abe signaled his eagerness to lift defense ties with Washington and Canberra in an opinion piece for the Australian Financial Review published on Friday, calling for “a peaceful, secure and prosperous future for the Asia-Pacific region.”
For his part, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) told the Financial Review that Beijing is ready to increase defense cooperation with Australia, which has long profited from China’s voracious demand for its natural resources.
Ahead of the trilateral talks, a senior US administration official said the partners were looking well beyond the Asia-Pacific region.
“The trilat is a new and unique way to leverage the capabilities of key Asian partners to improve our security posture in the region, for example on maritime security and missile defense, and to partner on global issues, including ISIL [the Islamic State], Ukraine [and] Ebola,” the official said.
Meanwhile, China was announced as the G20 host for 2016.
Turkey takes over the presidency from Australia and will host the event in Antalya next year. In a communique, the group of the world’s biggest economies said China would be home to the G20 in 2016.
“Australia looks forward to working with Turkey over the next year and it is my very great pleasure to announce that China will be the G20 host in 2016,” Abbott told a press conference yesterday.
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