China failed to honour pact: India at Quad meet

Updated on Feb 13, 2022 12:30 AM IST
  • External affairs minister S Jaishankar reiterated India’s contention that the standoff with China in the Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was the outcome of the Chinese side disregarding written agreements on not massing troops on the border.
Australian foreign minister Marise Payne listens to Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at a press conference after a meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) foreign ministers in Melbourne, Australia, on Saturday, February 12, 2022. (REUTERS/Sandra Sanders)
Australian foreign minister Marise Payne listens to Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at a press conference after a meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) foreign ministers in Melbourne, Australia, on Saturday, February 12, 2022. (REUTERS/Sandra Sanders)
By, New Delhi

India and Australia on Saturday pushed back against China’s criticism of the Quad as a tool to provoke confrontation, and said the grouping has a positive agenda of ensuring peace and stability so that countries in the region are free from the threat of coercion or intimidation.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar reiterated India’s contention that the standoff with China in the Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was the outcome of the Chinese side disregarding written agreements on not massing troops on the border. He was responding to a question on whether the situation at the LAC figured in his meeting with his Australian counterpart Marise Payne.

Addressing a joint news conference in Melbourne after a bilateral meeting, Jaishankar and Payne said the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, is not against any country and the group’s focus is on building prosperity and resilience through initiatives focused on Covid-19 vaccines, infrastructure development and maritime security.

The Chinese foreign ministry had criticised the Quad on Friday as a “tool for containing and besieging China to maintain US hegemony” and to “stoke confrontation and undermine international solidarity and cooperation”. A Chinese spokesperson said the attempt to forge an alliance to contain China would lead nowhere.

Also Read | China accuses Quad of ‘Cold War mentality’

Jaishankar said he and Payne discussed India-China relations as part of briefing each other about developments in the region. “It’s an issue in which a lot of countries legitimately take interest, particularly if they are from the Indo-Pacific region, because the situation has arisen due to the disregard by China in 2020 of written agreements with us not to mass forces at the border,” he said.

“So when a large country disregards written commitments, I think it’s an issue of legitimate concern for the entire international community.”

Jaishankar said China’s repeated criticism of the members of the Quad “doesn’t make us less credible”. The Chinese side has been taking this line for some time, but the Quad’s record and actions are clear, he said.

The four foreign ministers of the Quad, who met in Melbourne on Friday, made the point that the grouping is “here to do positive things, to contribute to the peace, prosperity and stability of the region”, Jaishankar said.

Payne was more pointed in her response to China’s criticism of the Quad, saying the work being done by multiple working groups under the Quad framework’s positive agenda shows that the grouping is “not against anything”.

“We are about building...confidence and resilience, about promoting a region in which all countries are able to be, and feel, sovereign and secure without the threat of coercion or intimidation,” she said.

Also Read | Quad leaders take up Indo-Pacific, Ukraine

The Quad has a practical agenda that is reflected in the grouping’s focus on vaccine delivery, infrastructure development, cyber security, maritime security, and countering dangerous disinformation, she said, adding that Australia, India, Japan and the US have so far delivered more than 500 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines.

“For Australia, the Quad is a very complementary part of the network of relationships that we have both regionally and internationally. And it is all about helping to positively shape our region... Australia has welcomed the development and growth of China over the years, but we have always said that we will also act in protection of our national interests as any sovereign nation would,” Payne said.

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