China takes aim at Quad, saying it provokes confrontation

China has criticised the Quad as a “small clique” that is “bent on provoking confrontation” and warned that it will be to their “detriment”.

China’s Permanent Representative Zhang Jun told the Security Council on Thursday that the US “has been ganging up in the Asia Pacific region, creating trilateral and quadrilateral small cliques, and bent on provoking confrontation”.

Zhang’s statement follows the Quad Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Melbourne last week at which they reaffirmed their commitment to an Indo-Pacific region free of coercion.

The Quad made up of India, the US, Australia and Japan, whose Foreign Ministers met in Melbourne last week, while the “trilateral” is the AUKUS, the security pact of the US, the UK and Australia that was announced last year.

Speaking at the Council briefing on Ukraine, Zhang tried to link the Indo-Pacific developments with the controversy in Europe over NATO, whose expansion is Russia’s point of contention with Ukraine and the West.

He did not name the US but referred to “one country”, which the context made his target clear.

“What it is doing will only throw the Asia Pacific into division and turmoil, and seriously threaten the region’s peace and stability to the detriment of the countries in the region, while getting nothing for itself either.

“China urges the countries concerned to learn from history,” he said.

While Chinese forces have been making incursions across the Line of Actual Control into India and its troops have clashed with those of India, Zhang said, said the Quad countries should “adhere to the approach of enhancing mutual trust and settling disputes through dialogue and consultation, and do more to contribute to world peace and regional stability”.

Backing Russia, he said: “NATO enlargement is an issue that cannot be overlooked when dealing with the current tensions related to Ukraine. NATO’s continuous expansion in the wake of the Cold War runs counter to the trend of our times, that is to maintain common security.

“This applies as much to the European region as to other regions of the world. There is one country that refuses to renounce the Cold War mentality.”

The Quad is not a security alliance and has no stated goal of becoming one.

Its focus has been on cooperation in regional aid programmes.

But its statements of commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region free of aggression and coercion causes unease in Beijing.

India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, US Secretary of State and Foreign Ministers Marise Payne of Australia and Hayashi Yoshimasa of Japan said in a joint statement after their Melbourne meeting that they backed “Indo-Pacific countries’ efforts to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific – a region which is inclusive and resilient, and in which states strive to protect the interests of their people, free from coercion”.

Without mentioning China which poses a common threat to the four countries, the Ministers said: “Quad partners champion the free, open, and inclusive rules-based order, rooted in international law, that protects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of regional countries.”

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in and followed @arulouis)

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