Mike Pompeo Calls out China’s ‘Malign Activity’ in Talks with Asia-Pacific Counterparts

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives at Ciampino airport in Rome, Italy, on September 30, 2020. - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Rome on September 30, just a month ahead of the US elections and hot on the heels of a diplomatic breach with the Vatican, that experts …

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Tuesday in Tokyo of Beijing’s “malign activity in the region” as he began talks with his counterparts from Japan, Australia and India.

The four top diplomats, including Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s Minister of External Affairs — dubbed in diplomatic circles as the Quad, are discussing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the creation of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific Initiative (FOIP) focused on economic and security cooperation.

Pompeo is the first senior U.S. official to visit Japan since Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga took office last month, and he said he was confident Tokyo and Washington were on the same page regarding Beijing.

His call for China to be held to account for its increasingly belligerent attitude to its Asian neighbours is not new.

Pompeo’s criticisms of China range across issues from security to human rights to the coronavirus pandemic, which Trump’s blamed squarely on Beijing ahead of the U.S. election on November 3.

America’s top diplomat has led an international campaign for other nations to shun China, including its technology.

“In his first statement after assuming office, Prime Minister Suga described the free and open Indo-Pacific as ‘the foundation of regional peace and stability’. I could not agree more,” he said at the start of talks with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi.

Speaking later, Suga said the spread of the coronavirus had shown “exactly why right now is the time that we must further deepen coordination with as many countries as possible that share our vision and build our efforts to enhance cooperation.”

For its part, Beijing has made no secret of its view on the Quad grouping, with the foreign ministry last week urging countries to avoid “closed and exclusive ‘cliques'”.

“We hope the relevant countries can proceed from the common interests of countries in the region, and do more things that are conducive to regional peace, stability and development, not the other way around,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.

The first Quad meeting took place in New York last year, and there are moves to make the gathering an annual event.

Pompeo heads back to Washington in the late evening. Planned stops in South Korea and Mongolia have been scrapped.

AFP contributed to this story

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