US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke out against China on Tuesday at a meeting of US regional allies in Tokyo.
Mr Pompeo accused China’s ruling Communist Party of “exploitation, corruption and coercion.”
He met with people from Australia, India and Japan – a group called “The Quad” – to discuss an increasingly stable China.
Under the Trump administration, relations between the United States and China have deteriorated over the decades.
In response, Washington is pushing for stronger ties with regional allies.
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Other members represented by Toshimitsu Modeki of Japan, Maris Payne of Australia and Subramaniam Jaisankar of India – were expected to discuss other issues, including the corona virus infection and cyber security.
“We look forward to discussing our increased cooperation to enhance our shared vision for a free and open #Indopacific, which includes independent, strong and prosperous nations,” Mr Pompeo tweeted.
China has previously clarified its displeasure with the Quad Group and warned ahead of the meeting against “exclusive groups” targeting third parties.
“We believe that the countries concerned can move forward from the common interests of the countries in the region and can do many things that are conducive to regional peace, stability and development, there is no other way,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenpin said.
What is Quad Compilation?
The quadrilateral initiative – informally named Quad – first began in May 2007 with a meeting between the United States, Japan, India and Australia in the Philippine capital Manila.
The informal group, which was won by then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was seen by analysts as an attempt to accelerate cooperation in the face of rapidly growing China.
However he acknowledged that their numbers were not enough to defeat Beijing’s state of affairs, saying that their “strategic alliance” was aimed at maintaining regional security and not targeting any particular country. The quad panel then lost momentum and was refurbished a few years ago.
Mr Abe’s retirement in August casts doubt on the future of the quartet. Yoshihide Suka has been appointed to replace Mr Abe, and there are questions as to whether the new Japanese prime minister will show the same enthusiasm for the strategic group.
Mr Suka is focused on economic reform and has little experience in foreign policy, writes the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo.
Why the quad meeting now?
The recent meeting comes at a time when the United States, India and Australia have all seen growing tensions in relations with China.
Since 2018, the United States and China have been locked in a fierce trade war, and in recent months they have clashed over a number of issues, including spy arrests, corona virus infections and revoked Chinese student visas.
Australian relations with China are also deteriorating. In September, the last two reporters working for the Australian media in China were expelled after a five-day tense diplomatic stance.
Tensions are growing on the disputed border in the Himalayan region between Beijing and Delhi. The fighting in June saw the first dangerous confrontation between the two sides since 1975.
Alexander Neil, a Singapore-based Asia-Pacific security analyst, sees the Quad Group’s “real clinker” to renewed momentum as “India’s buy.”
“In recent years, there has been a lot of speculation about the Quad becoming a formalized organization, but it has been particularly controlled by India, which is the traditional stalwart of the non-aligned movement,” he said.
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On the other hand, he said that the United States is very much in agreement in sending messages under President Donald Trump.
“China’s coercive actions will not only lead to its self-isolation, but also to the unification of like-minded friends and allies. Quad is an expression of this,” it said.
Mr Neil expects Beijing to “blame the US for its control and Cold War mentality” and forge alliances to “suppress China’s rightful uprising.”
Japan’s new prime minister is expected to face a more subtle balancing act. Tokyo has seen steady improvement in relations with Beijing, while maintaining close ties with the United States, India and Australia.
Mr Suka told reporters on Monday that he would seek to “promote a free and open Indo-Pacific” and “try to build stable relations with neighboring countries, including China and Russia.”