TOKYO - Japan, the United States and Australia on Wednesday expressed "deep concern" over China's recent implementation of a sweeping security law in Hong Kong that is feared will restrict human rights and freedoms in the territory.
The three security allies confirmed the view during a meeting via videolink of their defense ministers -- Linda Reynolds of Australia, Taro Kono of Japan and Mark Esper of the United States.
Many countries, including the three nations, have expressed concerns over the controversial legislation enacted last week, which targets secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces in the former British colony.
Apparently with China in mind, the three defense chiefs also reaffirmed their "strong opposition" to the use of force or coercion that could alter the status quo and increase tensions in the East and South China seas, where China has been increasingly assertive.
But the statement released after their talks did not name China in connection with the maritime issue.
The three ministers also confirmed their "strong concern" over North Korea's repeated ballistic missile launches, saying they violated multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.
During the talks, which took place amid the coronavirus pandemic, they also discussed ways to mitigate the impact of the virus, including sharing information, according to the statement.