China has downplayed the maiden Quadrilateral (India-US-Japan-Australia), or Quad, foreign ministers meeting held last week in New York, ahead of President Xi Jinping’s India trip for an informal summit next week.
Beijing feels that there was no need to overreact over this meeting, as it said India, as one of Quad members, believed in strategic autonomy and was seeking a balance between the US and China.
In a recently published special commentary in the state-run Global Times, Beijing also recalled Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2018 Shangri La speech that “India does not see the Indo-Pacific region as a strategy or as a club of limited members. And by no means do we consider it as directed against any country”.
The Global Times commentary claimed that Delhi was “unwilling to feature this region with competition against China”. This is the first comment from China since the Quad Foreign Ministers meeting and can be described as guarded.
“New Delhi’s policy adjustment undoubtedly was a key factor in upgrading the Quad. Since Trump assumed office, US-India ties have been further enhanced. The US sees India not only as a major power in Indo-Pacific but also as a friend to compete with China at the global level … But New Delhi has long been seeking a balance between the US and China. It loathes to lose its strategic autonomy or become a sidekick of the US. In particular, Modi has proposed a different Indo-Pacific vision from the US one,” according to the commentary.
ET had earlier reported that while India was part of the Quad foreign minister-level meeting, it balanced the meet with the Brics foreign ministers meet, also held in New York on the same day. While the Brics issued a joint statement, there was no such effort by the Quad. India too did not issue any statement or offer comments on the meet, except a tweet by the foreign minister featuring a picture of the four foreign ministers.
“The most essential driver for upgrading the Quad comes from the US. The US defense department in June issued the first Indo-Pacific Strategy report, which is widely regarded as a signal that the Trump administration will further strengthen its strategic competition with China in the region. For Washington, the Quad is a core mechanism for implementing its Indo-Pacific Strategy, and a basis for building a ‘NATO’ in Asia to contain Beijing,” said the state-run media.
“…Japan, Australia, and India are unwilling to confront China and cannot afford the tremendous cost it brings. By advancing the third-party market cooperation with Beijing, Tokyo is exploring a new path to respond to the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. During his visit to the US, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on September 23 also stressed Canberra’s ‘strategic and comprehensive partnerships’ with Beijing,” it read.
The Modi administration, the commentary claimed, also preferred not to confuse the Quad with the Indo-Pacific strategy and hoped to consolidate its position in Eurasia using the India-China-Russia trilateral mechanism.
“…Most Chinese observers believe that there is no need to overreact, and the key to handling the Quad is to be more active in dealing with India, Japan, and Australia,” the Global Times said.
Source: Economic Times