Washington, 29 July 2020 (dpa/MIA) – The United States and Australia announced plans to strengthen cooperation on Tuesday, at a time when both countries face rising tensions with China.
In a joint statement, the two countries’ top foreign and defence officials expressed deep concern about the “sweeping and vague” security legislation imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing, as well as repression in China’s far-western Xinjiang region.
Both countries have taken steps to suspend their extradition agreements with Hong Kong.
They also turned to Beijing’s actions in the disputed South China Sea, where five Australian warships supported a US military exercise last week.
Washington and Canberra will continue to work together to “reassert the rule of law” in the region, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a press conference.
Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper met with their Australian counterparts, Defence Minister Lisa Reynolds and Foreign Minister Marise Payne in Washington.
The two nations plan to deepen their defence science technology cooperation, which would include bolstering hypersonics, electronic warfare and space-based capabilities, Reynolds said.
They also plan to set up a US-funded military fuel reserve in the northern Australian city of Darwin, Esper said.
Pompeo applauded Australia for publicly asking for a review into the origin of the novel coronavirus.
Australia has also accused China of carrying out cyberattacks, and Beijing has charged that Canberra engaged in espionage and has warned its students and tourists against visiting the country due to racism, as well as slapping sanctions on some Australian goods.