The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, left this Tuesday for the Asia-Pacific region, a journey that aims to consolidate local partnerships in the face of China’s expansionist strategy and which comes at the height of the Ukrainian crisis.
Blinken will spend three days in the Australian city of Melbourne, where he will attend a meeting of foreign ministers from the Quad group, an alliance of the United States of America (USA) with Australia, India, and Japan, which Washington wants to be a bulwark against China’s desire for regional control.
In Melbourne, the head of US diplomacy will meet with senior Australian officials, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, with whom he is expected to try to strengthen the trilateral military alliance “AUKUS” (Australia, UK, USA), announced in September. to combat China’s influence.
Under this alliance, Australia last year acquired nuclear-powered submarines from the United States, breaking a contract to purchase traditional submarines from France, which sparked a diplomatic incident.
Following his departure from Australia, scheduled for Saturday, Blinken will stop over in Fiji to meet with several leaders from the Pacific Islands.
“The main message the Secretary of State will deliver is that our partnerships deliver on promises made,” said Daniel Kritenbrink, Assistant Secretary of State for the Pacific and East Asia.
“The Quad is a key economic and security component of US foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific region,” explained Kritenbrink.
Created in 2007, the Quad group was revitalized in 2017, when Australia became more assertively involved to combat the expansionist intentions of the Beijing Government, accused of military intimidation in the South China Sea.
The Australian Armed Forces participated in joint alliance maneuvers in 2020, a year in which Chinese and Indian troops clashed several times in a disputed border area.
The Melbourne meeting will also serve to discuss strategies to combat the covid-19 pandemic and the problems of climate change, preparing the agenda for a meeting of heads of state of the Quad, scheduled for the middle of this year.
This Blinken trip comes at a time when Western fears about a potential Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine remain very much alive.
It also comes just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin received the support of Chinese head of state Xi Jinping in his criticism of NATO’s eastward expansion.
At a meeting in the Chinese capital, which took place on the occasion of the opening of the Winter Olympic Games, the two leaders showed signs of a common front, with Beijing supporting Moscow in its confrontation with NATO over Ukraine and Putin returning the support of Xi Jinping with regard to Taiwan, an island that China considers part of its territory and which has even threatened reunification by force.
Source: With Agencies