Japan and Australia signed a “historic treaty” at a virtual leaders’ summit on Jan. 6 that seeks to strengthen defense and security cooperation between the two nations in response to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s growing advance in the Indo-Pacific region.
According to ABC Australia, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a virtual summit to formalize an agreement that has been several years in the making.
The United States and Britain have also been engaged in the region to strengthen defense ties amid concerns over China, including continued pressure on Taiwan, freedom of navigation in the region, and other trade disputes.
But given the closeness between Japan and Australia, it was necessary to formalize a security pact, setting out common interests and commitments to cooperation.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement that signing a reciprocal commitments agreement with his Japanese counterpart would “underpin a larger and more complex practical engagement” between the two countries defense forces.
“This treaty will be a statement of our two nations’ commitment to work together in meeting the shared strategic security challenges we face and to contribute to a secure and stable Indo-Pacific,” Morrison said in a statement.
While Morrison’s statement avoided naming the CCP directly, he noted that the treaty would contribute to an “expanding agenda” for the QUAD, an informal strategic security dialogue between the United States, Australia, India, and Japan that promotes a “free Indo-Pacific,” a reference to foreign encroachments and encroachments in the region.
Prime Minister Kishida praised the agreement as “a historic instrument that will raise security cooperation between the nations to new heights.”
The Australia-Japan treaty follows the formation of AUKUS, a defense agreement signed by Australia, Britain, and the United States in September 2021, under which Australia acquired, among other issues, a nuclear-powered fleet for the first time.
The CCP authorities, as expected, did not react positively to the announcement of the new pact. And on Wednesday, Jan. 5, before the agreement was signed, they responded that bilateral treaties should promote regional trust, peace, and stability, hinting that this was not the case.
“It should not target or harm the interests of third parties,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said when asked about the treaty at a daily press briefing.
“The Pacific Ocean is big enough for the common development of countries in the region.
For several years now, the Indo-Pacific region has generated serious conflicts among the countries concerned, who condemn the CCP’s frequent military operations by traversing the first island chain, sending aircraft and warships near Taiwan, and entering foreign territories.
During 2020 and 2021, Chinese warplanes crossed the midline of the Taiwan Strait many times. Likewise, according to military reports, Chinese ships raided the Japanese-administered areas of the Senkaku Islands hundreds of times.
To counter these outrages by the CCP, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Australia began joint military exercises in August 2021, seeking to carry out a show of force and resistance in the region, the South China Morning Post reported.