Quad countries express concern over militarization of disputed Asian seas « Khabarhub
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Quad countries express concern over militarization of disputed Asian seas


04 March 2023  

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NEW DELHI: In a message aimed squarely at China, foreign ministers of the Quad grouping expressed concern Friday at the militarization of disputed territories in the South and East China Seas.

The top diplomats of the United States, Australia, India and Japan met in New Delhi, as Beijing pushes claims to disputed maritime areas, sparking concerns about its growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

Without naming China, a joint statement issued after the Quad meeting said, “We express serious concern at the militarization of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities.”

Emphasizing the importance of adherence to international law to meet “challenges to the maritime rules-based order,” the ministers said that “we strongly oppose any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo or increase tensions in the area.”

China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has disputes with different countries in the region, such as Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam. It also has established military bases on islands it has constructed in the disputed waters.

The Quad calls itself a strategic forum, but Beijing sees the grouping as an effort by Washington to encircle it with strategic and military allies.

China repeated its criticism of the Quad on Friday, with Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, saying that “cooperation among countries should conform to the trend of the times for peace and development and should not engage in exclusive cliques.”

“We hope the countries concerned will do something that is conducive to enhancing the security and mutual trust of regional countries and to maintaining regional peace and stability,” Mao said.

Speaking at a separate forum in New Delhi, the Quad foreign ministers sought to allay concerns it is a military grouping and underlined that it is focused on enhancing cooperation in non-military areas in Asia, such as democracy, good governance, global health and disaster relief.

Asserting the group is engaged in working together to help countries, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “This is not a military grouping, it’s not that kind of alliance.” He said the Quad does not ask countries to choose between them and Beijing.

Similar messages came in from the Japanese and Australian foreign ministers. The Quad is “not for security issues, nor military issues,” Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said.

“As long as even China abides by the laws and international norms, and also acts under the international institutions, standards and laws, then this is not a conflicting issue between China and the Quad,” Hayashi said.

Australian Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, said the group was focused on “practical cooperation” among members as they work on development initiatives in Asia.

The grouping has picked up momentum in recent years as both Washington and New Delhi have seen tensions spiral with China. The four countries have held joint naval exercises and three summit meetings since 2021.

In his address in New Delhi, Blinken also said Russia cannot be allowed to wage war in Ukraine. “If we allow with impunity Russia to do what it’s doing in Ukraine, then that’s a message to would-be aggressors everywhere that they may be able to get away with it too,” the top U.S. diplomat said.

Referring to Russia’s threats of using nuclear weapons in Ukraine, the Quad foreign ministers’ statement said, “The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible,” and they called for a “comprehensive, just and lasting peace in accordance with international law.”

The meeting of the Quad took place in the Indian capital a day after foreign ministers of the Group of 20 countries failed to issue a joint statement condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine following objections by China and Russia.

(VOA)

Publish Date : 04 March 2023 06:56 AM

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