Skirting any direct response to the first quadrilateral meeting of India, US, Japan and Australia, China on 13 November questioned its exclusion from the group and expressed hope that the new concept of ‘Indo-Pacific’ is not directed against it, reports PTI.
“The relevant proposals should be open and inclusive and should be conducive to win-win cooperation and avoid politicising or excluding the relevant parties,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a media briefing here.
He was answering a spate of questions on the Indo-Pacific concept and the quadrilateral meeting held at Manila on 12 November.
Asked whether he meant “exclusion of the relevant parties” referred to omission of China, Geng said China welcomes the development of friendly cooperation between relevant countries.
“We hope this kind of relations will not be directed at a third party and conducive to the regional peace and stability. This is the general concept and I think this kind of position applies to any proposal,” he said.
Giving shape and substance to the Indo-Pacific concept by virtually replacing the previous Asia-Pacific, the US, India, Japan and Australia on 12 November held their first official-level talks in Manila ahead of the ASEAN summit with a focus on keeping the region “free and open”, amid China’s growing military presence in the strategic area.
The move is seen as counter to China’s aggressive behaviour in the area. 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 officials also exchanged views on addressing common challenges of terrorism and proliferation linkages impacting the region as well as on enhancing connectivity.
American officials earlier said the new term “Indo- Pacific” replacing Asia Pacific captures the importance of the rise of India with which the US has strong and growing ties.
A senior White House official had said that “we have strong and growing ties with India. We talk about ‘Indo- Pacific’ in part because that phrase captures the importance of India’s rise”.
And the strategy is “certainly not” to contain China, he said.
Indo-Pacific broadly refers to the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean regions, which also includes the disputed South China Sea where Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei question China’s claims over almost the entire waterway.
The Indo-Pacific concept has figured prominently during the recent visit by President Donald Trump to the region including to Japan and China.