Quad leaders indirectly take a dig at China : The Tribune India

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Quad leaders indirectly take a dig at China

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Quad leaders indirectly take a dig at China


Tribune News Service

Sandeep Dikshit

New Delhi, September 7

Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as most ASEAN leaders and guest countries skipped any direct reference to the tensions in South China Sea due to Chinese navy’s “water-cannoning” of fishermen of other countries and Beijing’s release of a new map that lays claim to vast portions of this maritime region.

Focus on rules-based world order

US Vice-President Kamala Harris underscored the need to uphold the rules-based international order in South China Sea, while Australian PM Anthony Albanese said Canberra would continue military exercises near South China Sea with the Philippines

However, while speaking at the ASEAN-India summit on Wednesday, PM Modi called for ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific. As India supports the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific, the PM suggested it would be mutually beneficial to develop a rules-based post-Covid world order as well as ensure efforts by all (sabka prayas) for human welfare. A day earlier, US Vice-President Kamala Harris, at the US-ASEAN summit, had focused on ASEAN centrality. She underscored the US-ASEAN shared interests in upholding the rules-based international order, including in the South China Sea. Another member of Quad leaders’ grouping, Australian PM Anthony Albanese said Canberra would continue military exercises near the South China Sea with the Philippines, which has a burgeoning dispute with China. Japan, on the other hand, has come out against the Chinese map and joined hands with India and five ASEAN countries in lodging a diplomatic protest.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang, meanwhile, skirted the issue of China’s new map at the China-ASEAN summit on the same day. He had reasons to be conciliatory since leaders of five ASEAN countries had last week protested the release of a new Chinese map that claims the South China Sea, Aksai Chin, Arunachal Pradesh and Taiwan. The US, India and China were guests at ASEAN, and left most of the tough talking to leaders of Malaysia and the Philippines, both ASEAN members.

While describing ASEAN as central to India’s economic strategy, the PM did not give any indication on the government’s next move on the expanded FTA between ASEAN and its first six dialogue partners. India is the only country that has opted out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the FTA between ASEAN and China, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan.

The ASEAN summit this year is without the top leaders of China and the US, the main contestants in South China Sea in which most ASEAN countries have skin in the game in the form of actual maritime claims. However, ASEAN leaders, including Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Malaysian PM Anwar Ibrahim made strong statements about territorial integrity at their ASEAN members-only meeting to follow up on their Foreign Offices’ criticism of the new Chinese map. India too had lodged a strong diplomatic protest with China for including Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh.

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#China #Narendra Modi


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