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Quadrilateral involving India, US shouldn’t be directed at a third party: China

Talks on the quadrilateral – widely seen as an effort by the four countries to counter China in Asia - were held at Manila in the Philippines, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is participating in Asean Summit.

world Updated: Nov 14, 2017 09:49 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Quadrilateral,India US Australia Japan,Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives for a bilateral meeting with President Donald Trump during the ASEAN Summit at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, on November 13, 2017, in Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo)

China on Monday advised against excluding “relevant” countries from the quadrilateral coalition floated by the US, India, Japan and Australia, and said the group’s policies shouldn’t be directed at a third party.

“The relevant proposals should be open and inclusive and conducive to win-win cooperation, and should avoid politicising or excluding relevant parties,” foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing.

Talks on the quadrilateral – widely seen as a joint effort by the four countries to counter China in Asia – were held at Manila in the Philippines, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is participating in the East Asia Forum and Asean Summit.

“From China’s consistent foreign policy, we welcome development of friendly cooperation between relevant countries, and we hope this will not be directed at a third party,” Geng said when he was asked to comment on the meeting of the leaders of the Quad countries and the US administration’s use of the much-talked about term “Indo-Pacific”.

Geng added: “We hope policies made and actions taken by relevant parties can correspond with the trend of the times, featuring peace, cooperation, friendship and development and be conducive to upholding regional peace, prosperity and stability.”

He spoke in generic terms but it was by far the most detailed reaction from Beijing on developments involving the Quad countries.

Last week, China had played down talk about the coalition, possibly timing it to the then upcoming visit of US President Donald Trump. Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying had said the Indo-Pacific region is a “dynamic region” with great potential.

She also stressed that “stability and peace” in the Indo-Pacific is of great importance to ensure the region’s prosperity.

A week later, the four countries seem to be closer to reviving the Quad, which was first mooted in 2007. The alliance is being seen by some in Beijing as the latest effort to counter an increasingly assertive China and its aggressive foreign policy in the region and beyond.

It is also being interpreted as a security arrangement led by the US to contain China. Trump and top US officials have been using the term Indo-Pacific more frequently than the phrase Asia-Pacific.

Trump used it at joint news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul a day before arriving in China.

The Quad talks were held in Manila, where Modi interacted with Trump and Japan’s premier Shinzo Abe at a dinner hosted by President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines for the visiting leaders.

“The discussions focussed on cooperation based on their converging vision and values for promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in an increasingly inter-connected region that they share with each other and with other partners,” India’s external affairs ministry said in a statement.

“They agreed that a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region serves the long-term interests of all countries in the region and of the world at large. The officials also exchanged views on addressing common challenges of terrorism and proliferation linkages impacting the region as well as on enhancing connectivity,” the statement added.

First Published: Nov 13, 2017 15:24 IST