US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday said that China’s increasingly assertive actions across the region make it more critical then ever for the four Indo-Pacific nations known as the Quad to cooperate to protect their partners and their people from Chinese “exploitation, corruption and coercion.”
Pompeo made the remark at a meeting in Tokyo with the foreign ministers of Japan, India and Australia, who together make up the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. The talks were the group’s first in-person since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Pompeo accused China of covering up the pandemic and worsening it, while threatening freedom, democracy and diversity in the region with its increasingly assertive actions.
“It is more critical now than ever that we collaborate to protect our people and partners from the Chinese Communist Party’s exploitation, corruption and coercion,” he said. “We see in the East and South China seas, the Mekong, the Himalayas, the Taiwan Strait.”
Earlier in the day, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said at a meeting with the Quad diplomats — Pompeo, Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marise Payne, Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi — that their “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) security and economic initiative is more important than ever amid challenges from the pandemic.
The international community faces multiple challenges as it tries to resolve the pandemic, and “this is exactly why right now it is time that we should further deepen coordination with as many countries as possible that share our vision,” Suga said.
Japan and the US have been pushing the FOIP as a way to bring together “like-minded” countries that share concerns about China’s growing assertiveness and influence.
Pompeo met earlier one-on-one with his counterparts, meetings in which, according to the US Department of State, he shared their concerns about China’s increasing influence in the region, while reaffirming the importance of cooperation among those sharing the concerns.
Japan hopes to regularize the Quad foreign ministers’ talks and broaden their cooperation with other countries.
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