The US Secretary of State today denounced China’s “covert activities” during a meeting in Tokyo with Australian, Indian and Japanese counterparts to show a united front before the Asian giant.
Mike Pompeo and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne expressed “shared concerns about covert activities” in China in the Indo-Pacific region, according to a statement from the US State Department.
Pompeo’s visit to Japan was continued despite the covid-19 pandemic and contagion from the President of the United States, Donald Trump, and some of the White House advisers.
Due to this situation, Pompeo canceled, at the last moment, two stopovers, in South Korea and Mongolia.
But the Tokyo meeting of the “Quad”, an informal strategic group that integrates the United States, Australia, India and Japan, was kept on the agenda.
The visit to Japan is also the first for a North American official since the appointment, in the middle of last month, of the new Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga. Suga and Pompeo have scheduled a meeting during the day.
“In the first statement after taking on the new duties, Suga described the free and open Indo-Pacific region as‘ the basis for regional peace and stability ’.
“I totally agree,” said Pompeo. “I would just add that the cornerstone of this base is the American-Japanese relationship and the security and prosperity it brings to our people,” he said, before meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.
The constitution of the “Quad”, formed for the first time in 2019, in New York, was strongly supported by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, of whom Suga was a faithful adviser.
But the raison d’être of this group seems to be, for the time being, essentially symbolic.
Before leaving for Tokyo, Pompeo said he expected “some important announcements” at the end of these quadrilateral meetings, but said that they would only be made after the ministers returned to the countries and consulted their leaders.
The objective of the main democracies in the region is to intensify cooperation in the face of an increasingly powerful and ambitious China.
Pompeo and the Trump administration are opposed to Beijing on security, trade and technology issues. New Delhi and Canberra’s relations with Beijing have also deteriorated sharply in recent months.
In contrast, for Tokyo, it is a balancing act, with Suga concerned about China, just like Abe before him.
On Monday, the Japanese Prime Minister underlined his intention to promote the “Quad”, while building “stable relations with neighboring countries, including Russia and China”.
Pompeo, Motegi, Payne and the head of Indian diplomacy, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, will also address the covid-19 pandemic, maritime security and cybersecurity, said a Japanese diplomat.
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