BEIJING: China on Friday reaffirmed its criticism of the Quad grouping comprising the US, India, Australia and Japan, saying the state-to-state interactions should pursue peace and development and contribute to mutual trust and regional stability rather than exclusivity. The Quad foreign ministers carried out a comprehensive review of the situation in the Indo-Pacific at a meeting in New Delhi on Friday. Presided over by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, the meeting was attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, his Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi and Australian foreign minister Penny Wong.
The meeting came against the backdrop of growing global concerns over increasing Chinese assertiveness in the strategically-vital region.
A joint statement issued after the meeting reaffirmed the four-nation grouping’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and said it strongly supports the principles of rule of law, sovereignty and territorial integrity and peaceful settlement of disputes.
Responding to the Quad statement at a media briefing here, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said China believes that state-to-state interactions should be in line with the trend of the time which is peace and development rather than exclusivity.
“We think that countries should do more to contribute to regional mutual trust, peace and regional stability,” she said, reaffirming Beijing’s oft-repeated opposition to Quad that it is an exclusive bloc aimed at containing China’s rise.
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.
US President Joe Biden hosted the first-ever summit of the Quad leaders in the virtual format in March 2021 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.
Beijing claims almost all of the 1.3 million square miles of the 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.
On China’s reluctance, along with Russia, to endorse a joint statement on the Ukraine war at the G20 Foreign Ministers meeting in New Delhi on Thursday, spokesperson Mao said G20 is a premier forum for international economic cooperation.
The G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in New Delhi was unable to come out with a joint communique due to a bitterly increasing rift between the US-led Western powers and Russia over the Ukraine conflict despite consistent efforts by host India to bridge the differences.
Mao said the leaders of all 20-member bloc at the Bali summit last year made it clear that G20 is not a forum to resolve security issues and China believes that the grouping should follow through on leaders’ common understanding and focus on this responsibility and make contributions to promoting stable, inclusive and sustainable economic recovery.
“Some G20 members hold different views on the Ukraine crisis. We hope the members can respect one another and show solidarity and cooperation rather than division and mutual accusation,” Mao said.
About China’s views on the outcome of the New Delhi meeting of the G20 Foreign Ministers, she said: “We believe the G20 Foreign Ministers meeting is an important forum especially given the international background and challenges”.
“We hope G20 can show responsibility and make due contributions for the world economic recovery and development,” she said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang took part in the meeting.
The G20 or Group of 20 is an intergovernmental forum of the world’s major developed and developing economies. The members represent around 85 per cent of the global GDP, over 75 per cent of the global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population.
The grouping comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the US and the European Union.