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Jumat, 19 Februari 2021

Quad meeting: China’s military ambitions dealt blow by Australia, Japan, US and India - NEWS.com.au

China’s attempts exert its force on its neighbours have been met with a major hammerblow from Australia and three of the world’s most powerful nations — in a stark show of resistance to the Asian superpower.

Members of the “Quad” group of nations — Australia, Japan, the United States, and India — met yesterday and unanimously agreed to oppose any attempts by Beijing to alter the status quo in the Indo-Pacific region by force, including its use of its domestic coastguard fleet to harass foreign fishing ships in the contested waters of the South China Sea.

And, with China making threats towards Taiwan, all four nations vowed to uphold the sovereignty of regional partners in the region.

In a statement following the meeting, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said the Quad nations were committed to supporting ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) neighbours and “upholding international rules and obligations”.

“We reaffirmed our commitment to supporting an open, inclusive and resilient region where the rights of all countries are respected and disputes are resolved peacefully, free from coercion, and in accordance with international law,” she said.

Yesterday was the first time the Quad nations had met since the change of the US administration — and the consensus reached by all four nations to oppose China’s military moves will almost certainly give Beijing pause for thought about its next moves in the region.

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Japan seems especially concerned about what is happening in the South China Sea.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said he told the Quad nations that Japan was worried about a fresh powerplay from China in the region

Beijing’s new law, starting on February 1, explicitly allows the Chinese coastguard to use weapons against foreign ships that it sees as illegally entering its waters.

The Japanese government is worried that its vessels navigating around the islands could be targeted by China.

“Foreign Minister Motegi expressed serious concern with regard to China’s Coast Guard Law, and the four Ministers concurred to strongly oppose unilateral and forceful attempts to change the status quo in the context of the East and South China Sea,” a Japanese government spokesman said in a statement issued after the meeting.

The Japan Timesreports that Chinese coastguard vessels were spotted near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which are also claimed by Beijing, for a record number of days last year, and that the boats have entered Japan’s territorial waters near the uninhabited islets several times since the law took effect.

The director of the Lowy Institute’s power and diplomacy program Hervé Lemahieu told The Australian there was a “shared concern” among Quad partners over China’s attempts to force other nations’ vessels out of the contested waters.

“We are more focused on the South China Sea, but there are a lot of tactics that China is deploying in the East China Sea which are being replicated in the South China Sea, and vice-a-versa,” Mr Lemahieu said.

“That includes the use of its coastguard, and trying to make the management of the seas a domestic law enforcement issue as opposed to one that involves sovereign states, which is a dangerous precedent.”

China’s state-run Global Times,in an article ahead of Thursday’s talks, warned that Beijing can retaliate economically if the Quad crosses its “red lines” in Asia.

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It quoted an analyst as voicing concern that the United States wanted to turn the Quad into a “complete anti-China club” and said President Joe Biden was turning to multilateralism to declare that “Captain America is back.”

Launched in 2007, the Quad was an idea of Japan’s then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a hawk who was eager to find partners to balance a rising China.

While Australia and India had initially been cautious about antagonising China, the Quad format has expanded in recent years as both nations’ relationships with Beijing deteriorate, with the four nations holding joint naval exercises in November off India’s shores.

The Quad’s creation is widely considered a united front by democratic nations in response to China’s rise, including its aggression in the East and South China Seas.

Another takeaway from the meeting that will raise concerns for China is how committed all four nations are — with all of them agreeing hold regular foreign minister meetings, and laying the groundwork for a first-of-its-kind Quad leaders’ meeting in coming months.

That would bring together Scott Morrison, Mr Biden, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and India’s ­Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the first half of the year — and would be powerful show of force towards Beijing.

In the latest meeting, all four top diplomats also discussed “the urgent need to restore the democratically elected government in Burma, and the priority of strengthening democratic resilience in the broader region,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said, using Myanmar’s former name.

Japan said that its foreign minister, Mr Motegi, “strongly urged Myanmar’s military to immediately stop its violent response to civilians” leading anti-coup protests and to release elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who troops deposed on February 1.

– with AFP

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2021-02-19 08:30:19Z
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