U.S.-China Talks Linked to Australia Ties, Biden Aide Says

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U.S. relations with China won’t improve until Beijing stops its economic coercion against America’s close regional ally, Australia, a senior aide to President Joe Biden told the Age newspaper.

The administration has told the Chinese government that the U.S. wasn’t going to leave Australia alone on the field, Kurt Campbell, the National Security Council’s Asia coordinator, said in an interview. Other nations including Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam have also been targeted by undeclared economic actions by Beijing, Campbell told the Melbourne-based newspaper.

U.S.-China Talks Linked to Australia Ties, Biden Aide Says

The nod of support comes days after the leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. vowed to to promote regional security in their first virtual “Quad” summit. While China wasn’t mentioned in the group’s final statement, references to an “open” Indo-Pacific region and shared security interests left little doubt that the meeting was a show of unity against Beijing.

Ties between Australia and its largest trading partner have deteriorated since April, when Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government called for independent investigators be allowed into Wuhan to probe the origins of the coronavirus. Since then, Beijing has implemented a range of trade actions against Australian goods, including coal, wine and barley.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian sidestepped a question about Campbell’s comments at a regular news briefing in Beijing, saying only that Beijing and Washington were discussing topics for their planned meeting later this week in Alaska. The cause of tensions between China and Australia was actions by Canberra, Zhao said.

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