Australia’s Defense Minister: Joint Meetings Send Significant Message About Commitment To Rules-Based Order

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles emphasized the importance of the joint meetings held by the defense chiefs of Australia, Japan, the Philippines and the United States in Hawaii on Thursday, stating that they send a powerful message about the four democracies’ commitment to the global rules-based order.

“Today, the meetings that we have held represent a very significant message to the region and to the world about four democracies which are committed to the global rules-based order,” Marles said at a joint news conference following the discussions.

The defense leaders gathered for their second-ever joint meeting, focusing on strengthening cooperation and addressing concerns about China’s operations in the South China Sea. Last month, the four countries conducted their first joint naval exercises in the disputed waterway.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin noted that the drills enhanced the nations’ ability to work together, build bonds among their forces and reaffirm their shared commitment to international law in the South China Sea. Marles added that the defense chiefs discussed increasing the frequency of their defense exercises.

The meeting comes as tensions have escalated between the Philippines and China over the resource-abundant region, with China employing aggressive tactics to impede Philippine resupply and patrol missions.