Ahead of the first in-person Quad summit among the leaders of the US, India, Japan and Australia in Washington, China on Friday criticised the grouping, saying the formation of exclusive closed cliques runs against the trend of times, and it is doomed to fail.
At the invitation of US President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterparts Scott Morrison of Australia and Yoshihide Suga of Japan have gathered in the American capital for the first-ever in-person Quad summit at the White House on Friday.
Asked for China’s reaction as the Quad summit is expected to address the challenges and rising risks Beijing poses in the Indo-Pacific region, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told the media that the quadrilateral grouping should not target any third country and its interests.
China always believes that any regional cooperation mechanism should not target a third party or harm its interests. Seeking exclusive closed cliques against a third country runs against the trend of the times and aspiration of countries in the region. It will find no support and is doomed to fail, he said.
Defending the Chinese claims in the South China Sea, Zhao said: China is a builder of world peace, contributor of global development and upholder of world order.
The growth of China means the growth for peace and stability in the world and China’s contribution to peace, stability and development in Asia Pacific is therefore all to see.
Relevant countries should do more that is conducive to solidarity and cooperation with the four countries in the region, he added.
China has always been an advocate of world peace, a contributor to global development, a defender of the international order and a provider of public goods. The growth of China’s strength means the growth of force for world peace, Zhao said.
In November 2017, India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the Quad to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.
In March, President Biden hosted the first-ever summit of the Quad leaders in the virtual format that vowed to strive for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, inclusive, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion, sending a subtle message to China.
The Quad summit is taking place amidst China’s aggressive behaviour in the resource-rich South China Sea.
Beijing claims almost all of the 1.3 million square mile South China Sea as its sovereign territory. China has been building military bases on artificial islands in the region also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Asked about Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga mentioning the issues of the East China Sea, the South China Sea and economic coercion in his meeting with Prime Minister Modi in Washington, Zhao said: “Lying diplomacy and smearing diplomacy are not constructive at all and must be put to a stop.
China is firmly committed to safeguarding its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. China is ready to continue to properly handle differences with countries concerned through consultation and negotiation.
The origin and headquarters of the so-called economic coercion’ are in Washington DC. China does not wantonly bully others and impose sanctions, exercise long-arm jurisdiction, or arbitrarily oppress foreign companies. China can by no means be accused of economic coercion,” Zhao added.
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