US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Foreign Ministers of India, Japan and Australia met, in a sort of a Quad, in the Japanese capital of Tokyo to discuss issues of regional and global importance, especially their strained relationship with China, in the backdrop of Beijing’s assertions in the South China Sea regarding disputed islands and shoals. The United States, by this meeting, seeks to shore up its relations with these allies to put up a united front against the Middle Kingdom.
It hardly needs to be mentioned that China has been, of late, in the news for all the wrong reasons—as the starting point of the Corona Virus pandemic, for a new security law in Hong Kong curtailing the powers of the Carrie Lam government there and, of course, its ambitions in the South China Sea.
Earlier Mr. Pompeo had planned to visit South Korea and Mongolia as well, as a part of the strategy to encircle China, but he had to reduce his tour to only to Japan in view of President Trump’s health. “We’re hoping to have some significant announcements, significant achievements,” Pompeo told reporters before leaving for Japan. However, he didn’t clarify what those achievements would be.
Evidently, the Chinese government has slammed the Quad as an attempt to contain it. Though the Quad has not till now developed in a formalized grouping, experts have dubbed it as a NATO of Asia.
On the part of India, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastav said that the top diplomats of the four countries are likely to discuss their shared concern of a free and open Indo-Pacific region at the meeting.
Mr. Pompeo met all the Foreign Ministers of the three countries—India’s Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Australia’s Marise Payne and Japan’s Toshimitsu Motegi before the formal meeting between the four diplomats.
He is also expected to meet newly crowned Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. The latter faces a delicate balancing game between neighbourly China on the one hand and the United States on the other. While China is a major trading partner, the United States is a long-time ally and a strategic partner. Only time will tell how well he tackles the two.