China says Quad, AUKUS are ‘cliques’ in U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy

Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Wang Wenbin. File

Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Wang Wenbin. File | Photo Credit: AP

China has equated the India, U.S., Australia, Japan Quad grouping with the AUKUS (Australia, U.K., U.S.) defence pact, calling both “exclusive cliques” part of the Biden administration’s “ill-intentioned” Indo-Pacific strategy.

The comments from Beijing this week are the first time that it has explicitly equated the Quad – whose members stress that it is not a military alliance – with the AUKUS defence pact, and reflect recently stepped up criticism from Beijing targeting the four countries.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, in Melbourne last week for the Quad Foreign Ministers meet, rejected that criticism, saying on Friday, “Our record, actions and stance are fairly clear and by criticising them repeatedly, it doesn’t make us less credible.”

This week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, took aim at the new Indo-Pacific strategy released by the Biden administration, saying that “ill intentions underlie the so-called ‘Indo-Pacific strategy’ devised under the pretext of ‘the China threat’”.

“What the U.S. says in its ‘Indo-Pacific strategy’ is different from what it is actually doing. The U.S. claims to advance ‘freedom and openness’ in the region, but is in fact forming an exclusive clique through AUKUS and Quad,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks at a press briefing published on Tuesday.

“It asserts to strengthen regional security, but is generating grave nuclear proliferation risks that would undermine regional peace and stability,” he added. “It professes to promote regional prosperity, but is stoking opposition and confrontation between regional countries which undercuts the ASEAN-centred regional cooperation architecture that has formed over the years, and poses a serious threat to regional cooperation outcomes and development prospects. This ‘strategy’ that resurrects the Cold War mentality and bloc politics has nothing new and no future, but will only bring division and turbulence to the Asia-Pacific. It will surely be greeted with nothing but vigilance and rejection from regional countries.”

China initially dismissed the Quad as “sea foam” that would fade away, but with growing closeness and widening scope that has seen the four countries begin to work together on a range of initiatives from vaccines to critical technology, Beijing has stepped up its criticism.

That has taken on a sharper tone of late, including naming the four countries in official statements, in a shift from the past where the criticism was broadly reserved for the U.S. On Friday, following the meet in Melbourne, the Foreign Ministry said “China believes that the so-called Quad group cobbled together by the U.S., Japan, India and Australia is essentially a tool for containing and besieging China to maintain U.S. hegemony.”

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2022 4:56:01 am |