The Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi issued a press-release after the diplomats of India, Japan, US and China met in Manila on Sunday. Reuters photo.
India joined US, Japan and Australia to launch a quad, but cautiously averted sounding harsh on China, although the four-nation initiative is aimed at containing the communist country in Indo-Pacific.
The Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi issued a press-release after the diplomats of India, Japan, US and Australia met in Manila on Sunday. No joint statement was put out, but the US State Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japanese Government and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australian Government too issued press-releases separately after the meeting that marked the launch of the quadrilateral initiative.
Unlike the press-releases issued in Washington, Canberra and Tokyo; the one put out by the MEA in New Delhi carefully avoided certain phrases, which are often used in international diplomacy to needle China.
The US State Department stated that the officials had “examined ways to achieve common goals and address common challenges in the region, such as: upholding the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific, including freedom of navigation and overflight, respect for international law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes”. The DFAT of Australia and MoFA of Japan too noted in their read-outs that the diplomats explored ways to uphold rules-based order in Indo-Pacific and respect for international law.
Beijing is been accused by US, Japan and other nations of undermining the “rules-based order” in Indo-Pacific. The communist country's territorial disputes with its maritime neighbours in East and South China Sea and its reluctance to resolve the disputes in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) often prompted the other nations, not only to criticize it for not adhering to the international laws, but also to call for “rules-based order” in Indo-Pacific.
New Delhi, however, dropped the call for “rules-based order” in Indo-Pacific and the “respect for international law” in its press-release issued after the first quad meeting on Sunday.
“They agreed that a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region serves the long-term interests of all countries in the region and of the world at large,” the MEA noted in the press-release.
The US made no bones about promoting the newly-launched quad as an initiative by the democratic nations to counter the hegemonic aspirations of communist China. “The quadrilateral partners committed to deepening cooperation, which rests on a foundation of shared democratic values and principles, and to continue discussions to further strengthen the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region,” the US State Department noted. India, however, preferred to avoid even tacitly referring to the quad as an alliance of democracies agaist China.
Unlike US, Japan and Australia; New Delhi also did not directly refer to North Korea's controversial nuclear and missile programme, but noted that the officials of the four nations had exchanged views on addressing common challenges of terrorism and proliferation linkages impacting the region as well as on enhancing connectivity.
The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Japansese Foreign Minister Taro Kono recently mooted the idea of launching a four-nation initiative. Though India joined it, it is keen to avert provoking China, particularly as it is currently trying to bring back its bilateral relations with its East Asian neighbour on tracks, after the recent 72-day-long military face-off between the soldiers of the two nations at Doklam in western Bhutan
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