Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said on Tuesday that enhanced Indo-Pacific cooperation was vital for recovering from the CCP virus pandemic. Amid Beijing’s aggressive expansion in the region, the four regional partners met to promote a strategic balance and work to support a region of resilient and sovereign states that engage each other based on “rules, norms, and international law.”
Payne attended the Quad Foreign Ministers meeting in Tokyo, Japan on Oct. 6. Although she did not call out the Chinese regime directly (neither did Japan or India), she said the strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific was becoming “more complex” and mentioned the need for regional powers to conform to the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea.
In her statement following the meeting, Payne said: “Pressure on the rules, norms, and institutions that underpin stability has the potential to undermine recovery.
“We emphasised that, especially during a pandemic, 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,” she said.
The “quad” of foreign ministers from Australia, the United States, Japan, and India discussed supporting Indo-Pacific countries in managing the health and economic impacts of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus. They agreed it was critical to the regional economy to be able to access safe, effective CCP virus vaccines.
The most direct in addressing the cause of regional concerns, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during his opening remarks at the meeting that the CCP’s assertive actions across the region make it more critical than ever for the Quad nations to cooperate to protect their partners and their people from Chinese “exploitation, corruption, and coercion.”
“We’ve seen it in the south, in the East China Sea, the Mekong, the Himalayas, the Taiwan Straits. These are just a few examples,” Pompeo said. He also said the CCP virus pandemic crisis was made “infinitely worse” be the regime’s coverup.
“The regime’s authoritarian nature led its leaders to lock up and silence the very brave Chinese citizens who were raising the alarm,” he said.
“America stands with each of you as we work to achieve victory over this horrible pandemic and rebuild our economies together, and I’m looking forward to that part of our conversation today,” Pompeo declared.
Further, the countries agreed to deepen cooperation in maritime security, cyber affairs and critical technology, critical minerals, counter-terrorism, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. They also agreed on quality infrastructure investment to strengthen the resilience of supply chains, key cyber-enabled systems, and critical infrastructure.
“To this end, we emphasised the importance of quality infrastructure investment as a driver of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive economic growth, which will be critical to supporting the region’s economic recovery. Ministers also agreed to further strengthen cooperation with regional partners and institutions, including in the Mekong sub-region,” Payne said.