By Sutirtho Patranobis | Hindustan Times
BEIJING, China, 16 March 2021
China on Monday said the four-member Quad “will end up nowhere” if it does not abandon its ideological bias and cold war mentality, underscoring its opposition to the bloc. Beijing described the Quad, or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, as a clique based on an ideology which, it said, “detrimental to the international order”.
The Quad, comprising India, the US, Australia, and Japan, has been revitalised following the grouping’s first and high-profile top leader-level online summit last Friday.
The summit, attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, US President Joe Biden and Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, was closely monitored and critiqued by Beijing. The consensus in Beijing was that the four countries came together to counter China’s increasing influence and muscle-flexing in the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific region.
China was also riled at the US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s remarks that the four leaders discussed at the summit the challenge posed by China and that the four-member security grouping believed that the four democracies could outcompete “autocracy.”
Asked to respond, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the China threat is exaggerated.
“For some time, some countries have been exaggerating the so-called China threat, (or) China challenges, to drive a wedge among regional countries to sow a discord between their relations with China,” Zhao said at the regular ministry briefing on Monday.
“What they have done is against the trend of times, which is peace, development and win-win cooperation and runs counter to the common aspirations of people in the region.”
“They will gain no support and will end up nowhere,” the spokesperson said, repeating the same words later in the press conference to another question.
Zhao said that state-to-state exchanges and cooperation should be conducive for improving mutual understanding and trust among the countries and should not be targeted against and undermine the interests of third parties.
“Relevant countries should abandon the cold war mentality and ideological bias, do not form exclusive cliques and act in a way conducive to solidarity, unity, regional peace, and stability,” he added.
Responding to a separate question on US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin saying that the US and its allies have the capabilities to deter China, Zhao said: “In the era of globalisation, it is the practice of forming cliques against specific countries based on ideology, which is detrimental to the international order”.
“They will gain no support and end up nowhere,” Zhao repeated.
China’s response to the Quad has gone through a diplomatic tonal shift, apparent from State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s statements.
In 2018, Wang said: “They are like the seafoam in the Pacific or the Indian Ocean: they may get some attention, but soon will dissipate”.
By 2020, Wang came around to acknowledging that the Quad had become a “security threat” and a so-called Indo-Pacific “New NATO”.
Noting that the US’ Indo-Pacific strategy was a “big underlying security risk”, he said: “What it pursues is to trumpet the Cold War mentality and to stir up a confrontation among different groups and blocs and to stoke geopolitical competition.”