CHINA has called Australia’s new regional security alliance an “exclusive clique” as foreign ministers from the four member States met this week for a second time.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne met with her US, Japanese and Indian counterparts in Tokyo on Tuesday again raising the ire of Chinese officials.
Discussion points included combating propaganda, establishing reliable supply lines for technology, health and security as well as regional infrastructure investment.
While Australia played down the subject of the meeting, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo played a straight bat.
“It was to discuss the People’s Republic of China’s malign activity,” his spokesman said. And “to counter the challenge that the Chinese Communist Party presents to us all”.
Australian Foreign Minister Payne failed to mention China by name stating “it was vital that States work to ease tensions and avoid exacerbating long-standing disputes, work to counter disinformation and refrain from malicious cyberspace activity”.
China took the US’s lead and responded bluntly.
Its foreign ministry made clear Beijing’s unease with the high level meeting in Tokyo, describing the meeting of the four nation’s highest ranking diplomats as an “exclusive clique”.
“Instead of targeting third parties or undermining third parties’ interests, co-operation should be conducive to mutual understanding and trust between regional countries,” said China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin.
In a surprising twist South Korea appeared to side with China – ahead of a planned State visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“We don’t think anything that automatically shuts out, and is exclusive of, the interests of others is a good idea,” said South Korea’s foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha prior to the Tokyo Quad meeting.
Proponents of the new Quad alliance consider it the start of an “Asian NATO” to contain China. While opponents view it as a dangerous stick with which to poke China’s communist Party.
This year’s deadly border standoff between India and China is possibly the most consequential confrontation in the world right now.
China has an economy more than four times India’s and is overtly seeking to project its military and political power beyond its borders.
While India was initially cold on the Quad alliance when first proposed by Japan in 2007, the world’s most populous democracy now admits it needs all the help it can get.
And Washington, under Pompeo’s State Department, appears willing to provide it.PC