US Defence Secretary Mark Esper and Japanese Defence Minister Taro Kono reiterated their commitment to maintaining a ‘rules-based order’ in the East and South China Seas on Saturday, August 29.
An official statement from the US Department of Defence stated that Esper hosted Kono in Guam where both the leaders acknowledged the strength of the US-Japan alliance and held high-level talks to boost and expand bilateral defence cooperation.
As per ANI, the statement said, “Secretary Esper and Minister Kono exchanged views on their shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The Secretary expressed serious concern regarding Beijing’s decision to impose a national security law in Hong Kong, as well as coercive and destabilising actions vis-a-vis Taiwan”.
It further added, “Both ministers restated their commitment to maintain a rules-based order in the East and South China Seas, and more broadly in the region and world. The Secretary welcomed Japan’s efforts to strengthen cooperation with other like-minded partners, including members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), India, Australia and trilaterally with the United States and the Republic of Korea”.
The move comes as China increases its military presence in the South China Sea region. Moreover, China also has launched two sets of military drills off the country’s east coast in a bid to display its power while countering the rising US military presence in the region. According to the South China Morning Post, the first exercise started in the Yellow Sea on Saturday, August 29, and will continue until Thursday while another drill began on Friday in the Bohai Sea and will last a week.