Australia, Japan sign defense cooperation treaty
Tokyo, Jan 06: Australia and Japan have signed a defense and security cooperation treaty at a virtual summit on Thursday.
The move to strengthen ties comes as China increases its military and economic outreach in the Indo-Pacific region.
What is the treaty?
The Reciprocal Access Agreement was signed to set out a framework for the two countries' defense forces to cooperate with each other and contribute to regional stability.
Beijing was not directly mentioned in a statement released ahead of the virtual meet between Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida.
"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 the statement.
The countries also discussed opportunities to strengthen partnerships on clean energy, critical technologies, and materials.
"Our cooperation also includes an expanding agenda for the Quad with India and the United States, and our shared technology-led approach to reducing carbon emissions," Morrison said.
'The Pacific Ocean is vast enough'
Japan, Australia, the United States, and India are part of the "Quad" group, working toward building an alliance in the face of China's increasing influence across Asia.
In a briefing on Wednesday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the treaty "should not target or harm any third party interests."
"State-to-state exchanges and cooperation should be conducive to enhancing mutual understanding and trust among countries in the region and safeguarding regional peace and stability, rather than targeting or undermining the interests of any third party," the Foreign ministry spokesman said.
The spokesman said that "the Pacific Ocean is vast enough for the common development of countries in the region."
"We hope that the Pacific will be an ocean of peace, not a place to make waves," he added.