Beijing: China on Tuesday said regional cooperation cliques formed to target a third country will not be popular and have no future, in its first warning shot against the upcoming US-led first in-person meeting of the Quad countries including India, Japan and Australia to be held in Washington on September 24.
Beijing has described the Quad, or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, in the past as a clique based on a cold war ideology and “detrimental to the international order”.
The Chinese foreign ministry reacted hours after Washington announced that US President Joe Biden will host the first in-person summit of leaders of the Quad countries, which have sought to boost cooperation in an apparent attempt to push back China’s growing assertiveness especially in the Indo-Pacific region.
The US visits of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga and Australian PM Scott Morrison will coincide with the United Nations General Assembly in New York, which Joe Biden will address on September 21.
When asked about the Quad conclave, which is to be held on September 24, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian said: “It (the Quad) should not target any third party.”
“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,” Zhao Lijian said. “To form exclusive cliques targeting other countries does not conform with the country’s aspirations, won’t be popular and has no future.”
“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,” Zhao Lijian 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“Relevant countries should abandon outdated zero-sum game thinking and narrow geopolitical concepts, take a correct view of China’s development, respect the hearts of the people in the region, and do more things that are conducive to promoting unity and cooperation of regional countries,” Zhao Lijian added.
China had reacted strongly to an online meeting of the Quad leaders in March, saying that it “will end up nowhere” if it does not abandon its ideological bias and cold war mentality, underscoring its opposition to the bloc.
The March summit attended by all four leaders was closely monitored and critiqued by Beijing.
The consensus in Beijing was that the four countries came together to counter China’s increasing influence and muscle-flexing in the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific region.
In November 2017, New Delhi, Tokyo, Washington, and Canberra gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue to develop a coordinated strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific region free of any influence.
In 2018, Chinese state councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi had described the Quad as “…seafoam in the Pacific or the Indian Ocean: they may get some attention, but soon will dissipate”.
By 2020, Wang came around to acknowledging that the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue had become a “security threat” and a so-called Indo-Pacific “new Nato”.