India’s ‘vision’ for Indo-Pacific region puts a question mark on ‘Quad’
India on Friday explained its “vision” for the Indo-Pacific region to China at a maritime dialogue in Beijing amid a new warm-up in bilateral ties, putting a question mark on the future of the “quad” group of which it is a member along with the US, Australia and Japan.
The strategy was discussed during the second India-China Maritime Affairs Dialogue in Beijing, where the “two sides exchanged views on various topics of mutual interest, including perspectives on maritime security and cooperation, blue economy, and further strengthening of practical cooperation”, a statement by the Indian embassy said on Friday.
“The Indian side elaborated on India’s vision for the Indo-Pacific region as articulated in Prime Minister Modi’s keynote address at this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore,” it added.
“India does not see the Indo-Pacific region as a strategy or as a club of limited members. Nor as a grouping that seeks to dominate. And by no means do we consider it as directed against any country,” Modi had said at the Shangri La dialogue in Singapore last month, indicating that the “quad” will not be the sole custodian of the Indo-Pacific.
“It is normal to have partnerships on the basis of shared values and interests. India, too, has many in the region and beyond. We will work with them, individually or in formats of three or more, for a stable and peaceful region. But our friendships are not alliances of containment,” Modi said at the dialogue.
The “quad” or the “quadrilateral security dialogue” is an informal mechanism between India, the US, Australia and Japan, almost always interpreted as a joint effort to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Doubts, however, have remained about the mechanism itself, with critics saying that it remains notional.
The India-China maritime dialogue on Friday covered other aspects of maritime ties as well.
“Both sides underlined the importance of this dialogue as an important mechanism between the two countries for consultations on maritime issues. They emphasised the need to further strengthen maritime cooperation as an important area of India-China bilateral relations, and as a platform to strengthen political and strategic mutual trust between the two countries,” the Indian embassy statement said.
The Indian delegation was led by Pankaj Sharma, joint secretary (Disarmament and International Security Affairs) in the ministry of external affairs while the Chinese delegation was led by Wu Jianghao, director general at the department of Asian affairs of China’s ministry of foreign affairs.
The Indian delegation also called on Kong Xuanyou, vice-foreign minister of China.