Leaders from Japan, India, Australia and the United States met in Tokyo on Tuesday to find a common ground for tackling China’s growing regional economic and military influence.
The so-called quad grouping summit in Beijing strengthens its military and conducts exercises and tactics around the disputed territory, including Taiwan.
On Monday, US President Joe Biden warned China that it was “flirting with danger” because it was increasing military activity around the self-governing island, which Beijing considers part of its territory.
Biden said Washington would be prepared to intervene militarily to protect Taiwan, urging China to warn the United States not to “play with fire” and not to underestimate the country’s “determination, determination and resilience”.
Japan has also gradually stepped up its rhetoric on Beijing’s military action, warning China against any attempt to “unilaterally change the situation by force.”
Tokyo is partnering with Washington to monitor China’s naval activity, and Japan is particularly concerned about the movement around the disputed territory, known as the Senkaku Islands and Beijing as Diaoyu Island.
In this context, the Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida Biden, the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and the newly elected Prime Minister of Australia Anthony Albanese will be welcomed.
Some of the four hope that the loose alliance is transforming into a stronger bloc capable of presenting a united front to Beijing.
“The quad is showing the world that cooperation in democracy can do great things,” Biden said after talks with Kishida on Monday.
But that unity is complicated by the split with India – the only quad member who has not condemned Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
– ‘a neutral position’ –
Biden and his allies have linked a strong response to the Moscow war to Beijing’s regional ambitions, with sanctions on Russia a deterrent to other powers considering unilateral military action.
This makes India’s explicit refusal to choose a side in the conflict even more subtle.
And in any joint quad statement moving away from the more muscular language employed by Washington, Canberra and Tokyo in recent months, India could push for a softer overall tone.
Past statements have focused on the call for “free and open Indo-Pacific” and warnings against “unilateral” action in the region – not directly in the name of China.
Kazuhiro Mayeshima, a professor of US politics at Sophia University in Tokyo, told AFP: “The quad suggests that it is focusing on ways to deal with China. But India is likely to remain neutral.”
“In order not to put pressure on India, (Japan and the US) can focus on issues like economy and climate change,” he added.
The meeting will be a diplomatic trial for the Albanians in Australia, who flew to Tokyo within hours of the official inauguration as prime minister.
The 59-year-old center-left Labor leader said the Tokyo talks would be “a good way to send a message to the world that Australia has a new government”.
Biden arrived in Japan on Sunday after a stop in Seoul as he tried to reassure Asian allies that his administration was not distracted by the war in Ukraine.
Hanging on a regional tour, North Korea threatened to launch new missiles or even plan a nuclear test.
Speculation that a launch could happen while Biden is in Seoul has not materialized, but Washington says it remains “ready” and that Pyongyang’s missile program could be on the quad agenda.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)