China today questioned the upcoming first-ever Quad summit that US President Joe Biden is hosting, saying the formation of “cliques” targeting other countries “will not be popular” and has “no future”.
President Biden will host the first in-person Quad summit on 24 September in Washington, DC, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia and Japanese premier Yoshihide Suga will attend.
Asked for his comment on the upcoming Quad summit, spokesman Zhao Lijian of the foreign ministry of China said at a press conference that cooperation between the countries should not target third parties.
“China believes that any regional cooperation framework should go with the trend of the times and be conducive to mutual trust and cooperation between the regional countries. It should not target any third party or harm their interests,” he said.
“To form exclusive cliques targeting other countries does not conform with these countries’ aspirations, will not be popular and has no future,” he asserted.
“I want to stress that China is not only an engine for economic growth in Asia Pacific, it is also the main force safeguarding peace,” he said, adding that China’s growth is an increase in “forces for peace” in the world and “good news” for the region.
“Relevant countries should abandon the obsolete Cold War mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical rivalry concept and view correctly and respect people’s aspiration in the region and do more things conducive to regional solidarity and cooperation,” Zhao said.
In November 2017, India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the Quad to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.
In March, President Biden hosted the first-ever summit of the Quad leaders in the virtual format that vowed to strive for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, inclusive, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion, sending a subtle message to China.
The Quad summit will take place amidst China’s aggressive behaviour in the resource-rich South China Sea.
Beijing claims almost all of the 1.3 million square miles of the South China Sea as its sovereign territory. China has been building military bases on artificial islands in the region, parts of which Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam claim as theirs.
Finding a solution to the claim of China over the whole of the South China Sea, which the comity of nations considers an international maritime passageway, is on the top of Quad’s agenda 10 days from now. This has spooked Beijing. While the Republican predecessors of Joe Biden had been tougher on China, the Democrats are not too soft either when it comes to military interests, observers say, given that the US administration is driven by its defence equipment manufacturing industry.