Britain has pledged £25 million ($34 million) to bolster security in the Indo-Pacific as part of a pact with Australia, and leaders of both countries expressed “serious concern” over China’s policies in its westernmost extremes. Xinjiang region.
In a video call on Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison also called for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and warned Russia against invading Ukraine.
“They agreed that de-escalation is needed and underlined that any further Russian invasion of Ukraine would be a huge strategic mistake and would have major humanitarian costs,” the leaders said in a joint statement after their meeting.
The funds committed to the Indo-Pacific Security Agreement would strengthen regional resilience in areas such as cyberspace, state threats and maritime security, Morrison and Johnson said.
The bilateral talks come just a week after the so-called Quad group of Australia, the United States, Japan and India pledged to deepen cooperation to ensure the Indo-Pacific region was free of “coercion,” a thinly veiled swipe. to China’s economic and military expansion.
Johnson and Morrison expressed “serious concern about credible reports of human rights violations in Xinjiang, and called on China to protect Hong Kong’s rights, freedoms and a high degree of autonomy.”
The United States accuses China of genocide in its treatment of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang and abuses, including forced and prison labor. China denies the allegations.
China imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong in 2020, a move critics say undermined the greater freedoms promised under the “one country, two systems” agreed upon when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997. .
Morrison and Johnson also stressed “the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and expressed their support for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations.”
China claims Taiwan as its own territory. Taiwan has complained of frequent raids by the Chinese air force in its air defense zone, part of what Taipei says is a pattern of harassment by Beijing.
The British and Australian leaders also stressed the importance of maritime rights and freedoms in the South China Sea and said they strongly oppose “any unilateral action that could escalate tensions and undermine regional stability and the international rules-based order.” , including militarization, coercion, and intimidation.”
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