The United States announced talks for Thursday with Australia, India and Japan, with President Joe Biden renewing the alliance of the so-called "Quad" in defiance of warnings from China. The State Department said that secretary of state Antony Blinken will speak virtually with the foreign ministers of the three nations, with the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change on the agenda. The Quad was an idea of Japan's then prime minister Shinzo Abe, Launched in 2007, a hawk who was eager to find partners to balance a rising China. While Australia and India had initially been cautious about antagonizing China, the Quad format has expanded in recent years as both nations' relationships deteriorate with Beijing. The Quad nations in November held four-way naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea, with Australia participating for the first time in more than a decade, weeks after their foreign ministers including Blinken's predecessor Mike Pompeo met in Tokyo. China's state-run Global Times earlier this month warned Biden that renewing the Quad would be a "serious strategic blunder," saying he may trigger "a severe strategic confrontation" with Beijing by trying to prevent its dominance. India has historically insisted on non-alignment in its foreign policy but tensions have soared since last year when a pitched battle in the Himalayas left at least 20 Indian troops dead as well as an unknown number of Chinese casualties. India called for a "free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific," adding an additional nuance to the White House's description of only "a free and open Indo-Pacific" built in part through the Quad.
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