The defense ministers of Australia, Japan and the US on Saturday agreed to advance military cooperation in the face of China’s growing ambitions.
“We are deeply concerned by China’s increasingly aggressive and bullying behavior in the Taiwan Strait, and elsewhere in the region,” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said as he welcomed his counterparts from Australia and Japan to the US military headquarters for the Pacific region in Hawaii.
“Our interest lies in the upholding of the global rules-based order. But we see that order under pressure in the Indo-Pacific as well, as China is seeking to shape the world around it in a way that we’ve not seen before,” Australian Minister for Defence Richard Marles said.
The Japan Times yesterday quoted Japanese Minister of Defense Yasukazu Hamada as saying during the talks that “today, the international community is faced with these severe security environments due to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, China’s unilateral change of status by force in the South and East China seas, and the remarkable development of North Korea’s nuclear and missile-related technologies, among others.”
“The three ministers ‘strongly condemned’ China’s ballistic missile launches during massive military exercises surrounding Taiwan” following a visit made by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei at the beginning of August, the report quoted the Japanese Ministry of Defense as saying.
“On the rising tensions over self-ruled Taipei, the three also reiterated the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and agreed to encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues,” the ministry was quoted as saying.
Photo: Screengrab from US Department of Defense Twitter
The three ministers “pledged to ‘promote concrete and practical initiatives to ensure the security of the Indo-Pacific region’ and vowed to ‘continue to advance trilateral cooperation,’ including expanded and strengthened trilateral training and the promotion of defense equipment and technology cooperation ‘with the view to enhance trilateral interoperability,’” the Japan Times said.
“The defense chiefs also affirmed that the three countries would align their strategies ‘to continue to closely work together and remain committed to the region in order to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific and maintain and strengthen the rule-based international order,” the report said.
The US is pressing a diplomatic offensive to counter Chinese influence in the region.
On Thursday, Washington announced a US$810 million aid package for Pacific Island nations where the US plans to intensify its diplomatic presence.
US Vice President Kamala Harris last week traveled to Japan and South Korea, and said that the US would act without fear or hesitation throughout Asia, including the Taiwan Strait.
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