Tensions between China and the Western democracies over China's crackdown in Hong Kong, COVID-19 and claims regarding the South China Sea dominated discussions at the Australia-US Ministerial Consultations in Washington, D.C. (July 28)
MIKE POMPEO: We started this morning by talking at length about the Chinese Communist Party's malign activity in the Indo-Pacific region, and indeed all around the world. The United States commends the Morrison Government for standing up for democratic values and the rule of law despite intense, continued, coercive pressure from the Chinese Communist Party to bow to Beijing's wishes.
We also discussed COVID-19 pandemic. The United States commends Australia for publicly condemning China's disinformation campaign, and insisting on an independent review into this virus's origin.
MARISE PAYNE: We reiterated our commitment to holding states to account when they breach international norms and laws, as we have done and will continue to do so in relation to China's erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong.
MARK ESPER: The United States seeks a constructive results-oriented relationship with the PRC. But we will stand firm in upholding the international rules-based order. And we applaud Australia for pushing back against the CCP's brazen economic threats and coercive behavior.
LINDA REYNOLDS: Secretary Esper and I signed a statement of principles on alliance defense cooperation and on force posture priorities in the Indo-Pacific. This builds on our successful force posture cooperation over the past 10 years. And it will drive the next decade of our defense cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.