Blinken Presses Quad Nations to Counter ‘More Aggressive’ China
“Nothing is inevitable,” Blinken said in response to a reporter’s question about the likelihood of a confrontation.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that “China has been acting more aggressively,” although he didn’t consider a conflict in the Indo-Pacific inevitable.
Blinken spoke as a meeting of the Quad, a regional partnership that also includes Japan, India and Australia, got underway in Melbourne.
“Nothing is inevitable,” Blinken said in response to a reporter’s question about the likelihood of a confrontation. “We share concerns that in recent years, China has been acting more aggressively at home and more aggressively in the region.”
Also taking part in the meeting were Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, and foreign ministers Yoshimasa Hayashi of Japan and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar of India.
The Quad grouping was envisioned more than a decade ago to help democratic nations coordinate a response to China’s rise, and President Joe Biden hosted its first leaders summit at the White House House in September.
Blinken and Payne had met separately earlier and he praised Australia’s support in tackling the growing influence of autocratic regimes around the world, which he said threatened the international order “that we worked so hard to establish.”
He said he was also wanted to work with Australia on the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and emerging technologies, while Payne said there would be discussion on the AUKUS agreement and the challenges posed by “more than one” authoritarian regime.
The deal signed in September between Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. could help Canberra deploy a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines within decades, dramatically expanding its naval reach.
Blinken’s tour, which will also take him to Fiji, comes amid rising tensions on the border between Russia and Ukraine, with the U.S. warning of a potential invasion by Moscow. President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied that Russia plans to attack Ukraine and criticized a buildup of NATO forces near his country’s frontiers.
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