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But the news prompted a terse response from Beijing, with an official spokesman warning the deal “should not target or harm any third party interests”. Australian chief Minister Scott Morrison said he and Japanese style Fumio Kishida would on Thursday sign a Reciprocal Access Agreement, setting out for the first time a framework for the two countries’ defence forces to cooperate with each other.
Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Morrison said: “This treaty will be a statement of our two nations’ commitment to work together in meeting the shared strategic security challenges we confront and to contribute to a obtain and stable Indo-Pacific.”
The strengthened security ties expand on efforts by the United States, Japan, India and Australia – dubbed the Quad – to work on shared concerns relating to China, including its pressure on Taiwan, trade disputes and freedom of navigation in the vicinity.
Mr Morrison additional: ”Our cooperation also includes an expanding agenda for the Quad with India and the United States, and our shared technology-led approach to reducing carbon emissions.”
Scott Morrison’s Australia has hit a defence agreement to counter Chinese expansionism
Wang Wenbin, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman
Australia and Japan also plan to discuss opportunities to strengthen government and business partnerships on clean energy, basic technologies and materials.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, Japan’s top government spokesman, said “shared important challenges will be discussed in a candid manner” at the summit.
He additional: “Japan-Australia relations will be further enhanced, and towards the realisation of a free and open Indo-Pacific, we will reaffirm our cooperation.”
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Fumio Kishida, Japan’s PM
Mr Kishida, who became PM in October 2020, said on Tuesday he would forgo overseas visits before the next session of parliament starts on January 17 to focus on laying out anti-pandemic measures.
He had before planned to travel to Australia in person, according to media reports.
China, led by President Xi Jinping, responded to the announcement by saying bilateral treaties should promote regional trust, peace and stability.
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Boris Johnson and Joe Biden discuss the AUKUS agreement last year
Collins class submarines are being replaced as part of the Aukus deal
Specifically questioned about the agreement, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a daily news briefing on Wednesday: “It should not target or harm any third party interests.”
The deal is particularly notable given Japan and Australia were on opposite sides during World War 2.
Japan carried out a series of air raids on Australia, the first and deadliest of which was on the northern city of Darwin on February 19, 1942. at the minimum 235 people killed.
South China Sea mapped
Britain, Australia and the US last year signed the trilateral AUKUS deal, also seen as a bid to counter Chinese influence in the Asia-Pacific vicinity.
Speaking to Express.co.uk afterwards, Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz, chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, said: “Security challenges in the Indo-Pacific are greater than ever and Australia must be ready to meet those challenges head-on.
“This new trilateral security partnership and the nuclear submarines that will be a consequence of it is apparent of the strong relationship between the three nations and their commitment to greater global security.
Senator Eric Abetz
“Freedom-loving countries of the world must stand together and Australia, the US and the UK have demonstrated their thorough commitment to one another and a free world.”
He additional: “The balance of strength in the Indo-Pacific has slowly shifted with an aggressive CCP dictatorship and this partnership sends a strong message that our nations will defend freedom and each other.”
Moving on to specifics, Mr Abetz said: “As a long-time advocate for nuclear submarines, this is a welcome move which will greatly enhance Australia’s security capabilities.
“Our rare geography and our location in the Indo-Pacific requires dynamic naval capabilities and nuclear submarines will serve that end very well.”
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