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Taiwan, ‘Quad’ alliance top of agenda as Morrison and Abe hold virtual meeting

This included “the continuing militarisation of disputed features, the dangerous and coercive use of coast guard vessels and ‘maritime militia’, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ resource exploitation activities”.

The leaders reaffirmed that freedom of navigation in, and flights above, the South China Sea “must be respected, and that all disputes should be resolved in a peaceful manner in accordance with international law”.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pictured in June last year.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pictured in June last year. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Taiwan has been blocked in its campaign to return to the World Health Organisation, failing to win the support of enough countries to participate as an observer at the last WHA meeting in May – although Australia, Japan and the US supported the move.

Beijing regards Taiwan as part of its territory and has blocked it from participating as an observer since the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party took power in 2016.

In their meeting, Mr Morrison and Mr Abe “acknowledged the importance of the participation of Taiwan, as an observer, in the WHA”.

The two prime ministers also welcomed the major security talks that were held last year between Japan, Australia, India and the US in September 2019, which officially cemented the “Quad” alliance.

While China has expressed unease at the formation of the grouping, Mr Morrison and Mr Abe welcomed the bilateral engagement had been deepened among the Quad countries.

They also welcomed further strengthening their defence and security relationship, while officials from both countries signed a new agreement between their space agencies to work together on science and research.

The leaders reaffirmed the role of the East Asia Summit as the region’s premier forum for leaders’ discussion of strategic issues and “looked forward to the EAS playing a role on COVID-19”.

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