Eye on China, Jaishankar says Quad will benefit Indo-Pacific

The entire Indo-Pacific region will benefit from the Quad and any reservations to the activities of the four-nation bloc is possibly a “unilateralist opposition to collective and cooperative endeavours”, External Affairs Minister S
Jaishankar said on Thursday, in an apparent reference to China’s objection.

The Quad, or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, comprising India, the US, Japan and Australia was set up in 2017 to counter China’s aggressive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific region.

Speaking at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University here on ‘India’s Vision of the Indo-Pacific’, Jaishankar said the Quad is the most prominent plurilateral platform that addresses contemporary challenges and opportunities in the Indo-Pacific.

“It has, in recent years, been meeting at the highest level. We had a summit in Tokyo a few months ago, and that itself is an indication of how substantive its work has become,” he said.

“…We are confident that the entire Indo-Pacific region will benefit from (the Quad’s) activities. And that is validated by the growing recognition of its importance in the international community,” he asserted.

“If there are reservations in any quarter, these stem from a desire to exercise a veto on the choices of others. And possibly a unilateralist opposition to a collective and cooperative endeavours,” Jaishankar underlined without naming any country.

China’s foreign ministry has repeatedly opposed the Quad grouping.

It has said that the Indo-Pacific strategy “cooked up” by the US, in the name of “freedom and openness”, is keen on forming “cliques”. China claims that the grouping intends to “change China’s surrounding environment”.

Talking about the Indo-Pacific, Jaishankar said India envisages it as free, open, inclusive, peaceful and built on a rules-based order.

“We consider the Indo-Pacific as a region that extends from the Eastern shores of Africa to the Western shores of America,” he said. “Over the years, this region has seen strong and sustained economic growth spreading across the Pacific rim, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Gulf region and the East and Southern Coast of Africa. More integration and more collaboration will only add to prosperity and progress,” Jaishankar noted.

He also said the India-China relationship is going through an “extremely difficult phase”.

Responding to a question, Jaishankar said that the Asian Century will happen when China and India come together.

“At the moment (the India-China) relationship is going through an extremely difficult phase after what China did at the border,” he said.

Chinese and Indian troops are engaged in a prolonged standoff in Eastern Ladakh.

“I think if India and China have to come together, there are many reasons to do so, not necessarily only Sri Lanka,” he said, adding that it is in India and China’s own interest to join hands.

“We very much hope that wisdom dawns on the Chinese side,” he said while replying to another question from the audience.

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