European 'ignorance' is helping China build army says expert

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Japanese defence minister Nobuo Kishi said that the move by Beijing and Moscow was likely planned to coincide with the Quad meeting between Japan and its allies the US, Australia and India. Tokyo was hosting the formal gathering of Quad nations, which brought the leaders of all four countries – Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida, Joe Biden, Narendra Modi and Australia’s new leader Anthony Albanese – to the city.

Mr Kisihi said at least two Chinese bombers joined two Russian bombers in the Sea of Japan and “made a joint flight to the East China Sea”.

The defence minister told a virtual press conference: “After that, a total of four aircraft, two presumed (new) Chinese bombers – which replaced the two Chinese bombers – and two Russian bombers, conducted a joint flight from the East China Sea to the Pacific Ocean.”

Mr Kishi said the aircraft also hovered over northern Hokkaido and the Noto Peninsula in central Japan.

He said Japan has expressed “grave concerns” to Russia and China over the movement of warplanes threatening its airspace, AFP reported.

Moscow confirmed later on Tuesday that Russian and Chinese military planes had carried out joint exercises to patrol the Asia-Pacific region.

Officials said the joint military drill, which involved Russia’s Tu-95 strategic bombers and Chinese Xian H-6 jets, lasted for a total of 13 hours over the Japanese and East China seas.

The Russian defence minister said aircraft from Japan and South Korea’s air force shadowed the Russian and Chinese jets during the military drill.

Mr Kishi said Japan had raised its concerns with Russia and China.

He said: “As the international community responds to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the fact that China took such action in collaboration with Russia, which is the aggressor, is cause for concern. It cannot be overlooked.”

The four leaders met in the Japanese capital this week for the second in-person meeting of the Indo-Pacific Quad group, which was set up to respond to China’s growing economic and military might.

Points of discussion ranged from climate change, technology, COVID-19 and the fallout from the conflict in Ukraine.

India, which has close ties with Russia, is the only member yet to condemn Russia’s invasion.

Although the group’s statement did not explicitly mention Russia, it said the leaders had discussed the “tragic” conflict in Ukraine and underscored the “respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states”.

It also said they reaffirmed their resolve to “uphold the international rules-based order where countries are free from all forms of military, economic and political coercion”.

The group also announced a new maritime initiative to combat illegal fishing and pledged to invest more than $50bn in developing infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific as part of their joint efforts to counter China’s growing influence in the region.

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In a joint statement on Tuesday, the leaders said the Quad’s latest measures are aimed at demonstrating that the group “is a force from good” and that it is “committed to bringing tangible benefits to the region” in the face of pressing global challenges.

Although the statement stopped short of mentioning China by name, the leaders said they “strongly oppose any coercive, provocative or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo in the Indo-Pacific.

The Quad group went on to list a number of accusations that have been levied against China, including “the militarisation of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia, and efforts to disrupt others countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities”.

The leaders committed to deepening cooperation on infrastructure, stating that such investment is “critical to driving productivity and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region”.

They specifically pledged additional help for island nations in the Pacific, where China’s influence has grown significantly in recent years.

Beijing has previously condemned the Quad group as an “Asian NATO” set up to contain its growth.

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