With just hours to go for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with the QUAD leaders, a jittery China called for 'mutual cooperation' but also urged global leaders from targetting a 'third party'. Ahead of the mega summit set to be attended by PM Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australia PM Scott Morrison and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga on Friday, Beijing issued a nervous response to the QUAD summit. While China's Foreign Minister spokesman Zhao Lijan maintained that Beijing wants countries to uphold principles of inclusiveness, it also urges them to refrain from pursuing 'exclusive blocs'.
Addressing a media briefing on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that exchanges and cooperation between nations should contribute to the mutual understanding and trust among nations, rather than targeting a third party or damaging the interest of a third entity. Lijian's remarks come amid the uproar against China's actions across the south pacific region.
"We hope that relevant countries uphold the principles of openness, inclusiveness and win-win results and refrain from pursuing exclusive blocs and do things that are conducive to regional peace, stability and prosperity," PTI quoted the Lijian.
Earlier in February, Foreign Ministers of the QUAD countries had met to discuss China's expansionist attitude and reiterated the group’s commitment to a rules-based world order underpinned by respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty. The meeting between the four global leaders is also said to be a part of US President Joe Biden's plan to boost coordination against China. Beijing claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. But Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims. In the East China Sea, China has territorial disputes with Japan.
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue involves summits and information exchanges between India, Australia, Japan and the US. Never before have heads of all four countries shared featured together in the forum. The QUAD countries have also engaged in mutual military drills and increased cooperation through bilateral agreements over the years. In November last year, Australia had joined the annual Malabar exercises with the US, Japan and India. The meeting to be held virtually is expected to last about 90 minutes, during which all the four leaders would also lay out their vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, amidst China flexing its muscles in the strategically-vital region.
This evening, will be taking part in the First Quad Leaders’ Virtual Summit with @POTUS @JoeBiden, PM @ScottMorrisonMP and PM @sugawitter. The Summit will provide an opportunity to discuss a wide range of regional and global issues of shared interest.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 12, 2021
When the four global leaders huddle up virtually on Friday, significant issues including the COVID-19 battle, vaccine distribution, climate change and evolving technology are a few of the key issues expected to be discussed. As per PTI sources, the QUAD summit will be about each leader laying out a series of views on strategic issues that are important to them. Additionally, the leaders will also discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and are expected to announce key initiatives. With India as the epicentre of global vaccine distribution, the QUAD leaders are said to deliberate on delivery mechanisms and ensure vast distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to countries across Southeast Asia.
The summit is also expected to establish a senior-level Quad vaccine expert group. The focus of this expert group will be to implement this new deliverable, but also to focus on downstream cooperation to bring vaccines to people in the Indo-Pacific, as per PTI. After the change of guard in the US, Biden is expected to re-visit the Paris climate change agreement, with an aim of the Quad countries pledging to fully implement the resolution, work together on global climate actions and to cooperate on climate mitigation. The four countries also plan to establish a series of working groups that will focus on climate, on critical and emerging technologies, including working to set tech standards and norms and jointly developing some of the critical technologies of the future.