US President Joe Biden attends a trilateral meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (not seen), in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, November 13, 2022. — Reuters pic
BALI, Nov 13 — US President Joe Biden today met Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and discussed their security pact and issues surrounding the Taiwan Strait, the White House said.
The AUKUS security pact between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia is seen as an effort by the Western allies to push back against China’s growing power and influence, particularly its military buildup, pressure on Taiwan and deployments in the contested South China Sea.
The heart of the AUKUS agreement is a plan to provide Australia with the technology and capability to deploy conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines.
The two leaders met on the margins of the East Asia Summit in Cambodia and also discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House said in a statement.
“The leaders recognised the imperative of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” the White House said.
Beijing staged war games in August after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei, and has since continued military activities nearby including almost daily fighter jet crossings of the sensitive median line in the narrow Taiwan Strait.
Relations between the China and the US have strained in recent years over issues like tariffs, Taiwan, intellectual property, cyber security, the removal of Hong Kong’s autonomy and the origins of the coronavirus outbreak, among others.
Australia’s ties with China have also deteriorated, with China putting sanctions on some Australian imports and reacting angrily to Canberra’s call for an international inquiry into the origins of Covid-19.
Albanese also spoke briefly with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Cambodia on Sunday, amid anticipation of a formal summit with President Xi Jinping.
Biden told Asian leaders today that US communication lines with China would stay open to prevent conflict, saying that the United States would “compete vigorously” with Beijing while “ensuring competition does not veer into conflict.” — Reuters