Japan and Australia sign Defence Pact to counter China
On November 17, 2020, Japan and Australia signed the “Reciprocal Access Agreement” to counter the growing influence of China in the South China sea and in the Pacific Island Nations.
The defence agreement has taken six years of negotiations. This will bring the countries closer amidst militarization in South China sea and series of disputes over islands in East China sea.
About Reciprocal Access Agreement
This is the first agreement of Japan to allow foreign military presence in its sovereign territory since 1960. It signed Status of Forces Agreement with the US in 1960 and with Djibouti in 2009.
The agreement will pave way to renew Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement.
India and Australia signed the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement in June 2020. It is similar to the Reciprocal Access Agreement being signed between Japan and Australia. The agreement allowed reciprocal access to military bases. Also, it allowed the militaries to use each other’s bases for replenishment of supplies and repair.
India has signed similar defence agreements with US, Singapore and France.
The countries India, Japan, Australia and US are working under QUAD grouping and through various other means to achieve free and open Indo-Pacific. In other words, they intend to reduce and counter the influence of China in the region.
China in Pacific Islands
In the last two decades, China has increased its foot prints in the Pacific Islands. Between 2006 and 2017, China has provided 1.5 billion USD of foreign aid to the Pacific Islands. As of 2017, China is the third largest donor in the Pacific Islands.
China in South China Sea
Since 2010, China has been converting the uninhabited islets into artificial islets. This is being done to bring the region under UNCLOS (United Nations convention for the Law of the Sea). For instance, Haven reef, Fiery Cross Reef and Johnson South Reef.