In a strong reaction to Friday’s first leaders’ summit of the Quad — India, the United States, Japan and Australia — and the upcoming visits this week of the U.S. Secretary of Defence to Japan, South Korea and India, China’s Foreign Ministry hit out at countries “forming enclosed small cliques”, describing it as “the sure way to destroy the international order”.
Monday’s statement from China was the latest that took aim at the four-country grouping, and the strongest one so far. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused “certain countries”, without naming them, of being “keen to exaggerate and hype up the so-called ‘China threat’ to sow discord among regional countries, especially to disrupt their relations with China.”
“However, their actions, running counter to the trend of the times of peace, development and cooperation and the common aspirations of the countries and peoples in the region, will not be welcomed or succeed,” he said in response to a question about Friday’s virtual summit attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, U.S. President Joe Biden , Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“Exchanges and cooperation between countries should help expand mutual understanding and trust, instead of targeting or harming the interests of third parties,” Mr. Zhao said. “Certain countries should shake off their Cold-War mentality and ideological prejudice, refrain from forming closed and exclusive small circles, and do more things that are conducive to solidarity and cooperation among regional countries and regional peace and stability.”
To a question on comments from U.S. Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin that his trip to Japan, South Korea and India this week was aimed at building credible deterrence against China, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said China “has always firmly upheld the UN-centered international system, and the international order we champion is the one based on international law, not the one defined by individual countries to maintain their hegemony.”
“In the era of globalisation, forming enclosed small cliques with ideology as the yardstick is the sure way to destroy the international order and after all, is unpopular and will end in total failure,” he said. “The U.S. should treat China and China-US relations in a right mentality and in an objective and rational manner, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and work with China to focus on cooperation, manage differences, and place China-US relations back on the track of healthy and stable development.”
Chinese media reported that ahead of the U.S. Secretary of Defence’s visit to the region, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) held “combat-oriented naval exercises featuring different types of warships in three major sea areas, at a time when the US secretary of defence is rallying allies in the region”.
“The PLA Northern, Eastern and Southern theatre commands recently organised combat-oriented exercises in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea respectively,” the Communist Party-run Global Times reported, adding that “in the Yellow Sea, Type 056 and Type 056A corvettes formed a flotilla and practiced training courses including main gun shooting, secondary gun shooting and air defence by launching flares.”
“In the East China Sea, Type 052C destroyer Jinan and Type 054A frigate Changzhou ran more than 10 training missions including free combat among warships, submarines and warplanes, and joint fire strikes. In the South China Sea, different types of tug and support ships held maritime search and rescue and emergency towing exercises,” the report said.