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China Daily Global / 2021-06 / 11 / Page011

Washington and its allies regional destabilizers

China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-06-11 00:00

Following the"2+2" talks between the United States and Japan, and the US and the Republic of Korea, the Japanese and Australian foreign and defense ministers held talks via video link on Wednesday.

Just like the recent US interactions with its Asia-Pacific allies, the Japan-Australia engagement was focused heavily on China. Rather than respond positively to Beijing's appeals for a greater sense of community, the two countries were intent on openly ganging up against China. Parroting Washington's China-bashing lines, the two US allies demonstrated a similar determination to pit China against the rest of the world, and work toward its containment.

In a joint media release issued following the Ninth Japan-Australia 2+2 Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultations, the two sides, citing China's activity in the East and South China seas as a challenge to the international community, accused China of "destabilizing or coercive unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tension".

Their concerns regarding China encompass the Taiwan Straits, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, with the topics spanning territorial disputes and human rights. It seems that the US and its allies are leaving no stone unturned in their attempts to find fault with Beijing.

And in their portrayal, there is no wiggle room, it is exclusively Beijing that is the bad guy; an outlaw undermining the rules-based international order, which must therefore be confronted by the sheriff and his posse.

For Beijing, it is more of the same old meddling in its "internal affairs that no foreign country should intervene in", as the foreign ministry said.

Yet while it might seem to be nothing more than a regular round of diplomatic discussions badmouthing China-the latest Japan-Australia interaction should be a serious signal to Beijing that external intervention in the Asia-Pacific is rapidly gaining traction via intra-region alliances. As the media release from the two countries declared, besides tightening and upgrading their bilateral diplomatic and defense partnerships, Japan and Australia will attempt to reinvigorate the Pacific Islands Forum and encourage the European Union to further boost its presence in the region.

Considering the recent security-related developments in the Asia-Pacific, Beijing will no doubt find itself under greater pressure to invest further in defense capabilities. And as has always been true in similar scenarios in history, those who identify it as a malicious rival will do the same again.

Following such a path, the dangerous, yet increasingly realistic, possibility is that the Indo-Pacific may become the next region for a costly and risk-laden arms race.


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