Answering reporters on Friday, Feb. 11, at a meeting of the Quad, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggested that an actual conflict in the Indo-Pacific may be “inevitable.”
Per Reuters, he said, “Having said that, I think we share concerns that in recent years China has been acting more aggressively at home and more aggressively in the region.”
As the Economic Times reported, the U.S. foreign minister added that the Quad members were united by an “affirmative vision for what the future can offer” and a “commitment to defend the rules-based system that we have spent tremendous time and effort building.”
The Quad alliance, which involves the U.S., Japan, India, and Australia, was established more than a decade ago. In recent years, the grouping mainly focused on handling China following its forceful thrust across Asia-Pacific. Foreign Minister Marise Payne of Australia chaired the Quad gathering in Melbourne on Friday.
After the meeting, Payne said, “We agreed to boost maritime security support for Indo Pacific partners to strengthen their maritime domain awareness and ability to develop their offshore resources, to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight and to combat challenges such as illegal fishing.”
In a joint statement, the Quad group also said that they “oppose coercive economic policies, and will work collectively to foster global economic resilience against such actions.” Reuters noted that this implies China’s recent trade oppression of Australia and Lithuania.
The meeting was joined by Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
Besides China, they also spoke about coordination in other mutual issues, including COVID-19, cyber threats, and counter-terrorism.
The ministers further discussed the dangers of Russia and China’s recently celebrated ties at the Winter Olympics and the situations with Ukraine and North Korea.