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Strong Australia- Japan ties may cast over China’s global ambitions in Indo-Pacific

By ET News

The growing closeness between Australia and Japan, which are on the flanks of China’s backyard the South China Sea and the East China Sea, has alarmed the mandarins in Beijing.

The recent Australia-Japan ‘2+ 2’ Foreign & Defence Ministerial meeting that stressed the ‘importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait’ has set alarm bells ringing in Beijing, ET has learnt. The development is significant in the wake of major players in the Indo Pacific such as Japan, India, and Australia joining the US-led alliance to counter China in its backyard. The stronger cooperation between Australia and Japan can become an obstacle in the way of China’s rise even if the US leaves the scene.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi during a virtual discussion with Australian counterparts Marise Payne and Peter Dutton expressed “serious concerns” about the situation in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and “strongly opposed” unilateral attempts by China to change the status quo and to violate the universal Coast Guard rules, ET has reliably learnt. Moreover, the ministers broached issues like stability in Taiwan and human rights violations in Xinjiang province and Hong Kong— all sensitive to Beijing.

Japan has been seeking to form broader coalitions including with Europe besides India to counter balance China’s aggression.

Japan and Australia also exhibited strong position during the ‘2+2’ meeting by demanding “urgent, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang” for independent international observers as well as by underscoring the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

As expected, China protested saying Japan and Australia were “maliciously slandering and attacking China.” China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin asked these countries to “stop meddling in China’s internal affairs and stop undermining regional peace and stability.”

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