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The US Secretary of State made his remarks before a meeting with Australia, Japan and India. Mr Pompeo said the alliance between the four countries, which has angered China, showed “enduring power of democracy to bring free peoples together”.

He accused China’s regime of “exploitation, corruption and coercion”.

Mr Pompeo added: “Our partnership isn’t multilateralism for the sake of it.

“When we met now last year, the landscape was very different, we couldn’t have imagined the pandemic that came from Wuhan.”

Mr Pompeo said the Chinese Communist Party were silencing citizens who tried to warn about the coronavirus.

He said: “That crisis was made definitely worse by the Chinese Communist Party’s cover up.

“The regime’s authoritarian nature led its leaders to lock up and silence the very brave Chinese citizens who were raising the alarm.”

Mr Pompeo insisted that America’s collaboration with the “Quad” alliance between the four countries has never been more important.

“As partners in this Quad, it is more critical now than ever that we collaborate to protect our people and partners form the CCP’s exploitation, corruption and coercion.”

READ MORE: Fears of WAR explode as China savages The Quad in Mike Pompeo row

“Ministers agreed on the importance of strengthening the resilience of regional supply chains, key cyber-enabled systems and critical infrastructure.”

The four countries are hoping to strengthen their alliance with China’s neighbour Vietnam.

China has previously expressed its disapproval of the Quad grouping.

Before the meeting, China warned against “exclusive cliques” that target third parties.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, said: “We hope relevant countries can proceed from the common interests of countries in the region, and do more things that are conducive to regional peace, stability and development, not the other way around.”

The Quad first started in 2007 with a meeting between the four countries, the US, Japan, India and Australia.

The recent meeting comes as the US, India and Australia have all seen an increase in their tensions with China.

Japan, however, has seen a slow improvement of relations with Beijing as well as having strong ties with the US, India and Australia.

Japan’s new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, said he would seek to “promote a free and open Indo-Pacific”.

Mr Suga added how he wanted to also “build stable relations with neighbouring countries including China and Russia”.



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