At Quad, international ministers differ on solution to deal with China


Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 6

Individual observations by the four Foreign Ministers gathered in Tokyo for the second Quad Ministerial meeting reflected the difference in the way they seek to tackle the China threat.

The US was the most combative with its Secretary of State Mike Pompeo forthright in indicting China for the pandemic “that came from Wuhan” which was “made infinitely worse by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) cover-up”.  He also spoke of CCP’s “exploitation, corruption and coercion”. 

“We’ve seen it in the south, in the East China Sea, the Mekong, the Himalayas, the Taiwan Straits. These are just a few examples,” he added.

Jaishankar on the other hand did not mention China and focused on the need for “like-minded countries to coordinate responses to various challenges” and advance the security and the economic interests of countries with legitimate and vital interests in the region.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne like Jaishankar did not mention China nor was her tone rushed like that of Pompeo as she spoke of the Quad promoting a positive agenda. She described the Quad as a diplomatic network whose fundamental task was to work for an open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific. 

The host, Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu, too, spoke of a rules based order in the maritime domain and the need to take on board countries like France and Germany besides some Southeast Asian nations that share the same values. Tokyo under a new Prime Minister is reported to be working out the dates for a visit by Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi later this month.

Motegi’s formulation closely paralleled that of Jaishankar as he spoke of upholding the rules-based international order and respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty and peaceful resolution of disputes. This was far removed from Pompeo calling on Quad to be “forceful in response, to be direct about expectations”.

Jaishankar and Payne also dwelt on their respective expectations from the Quad which seemed to coincide: connectivity, infrastructure development, cyber and maritime security, health cooperation, and stability in the region. These are topics Pompeo did not touch upon though he has spoken on the economic aspects at other fora.



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