Ahead of the first-ever summit of the leaders of the Quadrilateral Framework or “Quad” on March 12, China on Wednesday said that it hoped the four participating countries will do things that are “conducive to regional peace and stability” instead of the opposite, reported PTI.
“We hope the relevant countries will keep in mind the common interests of the regional countries uphold the principles of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation and do things that are conducive to regional peace, stability and prosperity rather than the opposite,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, United States President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga will attend the virtual summit.
Addressing a press briefing, Zhao also spoke about reports of Quad leaders reaching an agreement to increase their vaccine assistance to the developing countries in a bid to counter China’s vaccines diplomacy. “China is a committed frontrunner in promoting international vaccine cooperation,” but is opposed to vaccine nationalism and politicisation of vaccine cooperation, he said.
An unidentified senior United States official had told Reuters that the Quad countries were planning to announce agreements to augment the manufacturing of coronavirus vaccines in India. The official said that some of the additional vaccine capacity created in India would be used in inoculation efforts in Southeast Asian countries. India had reportedly urged Quad members to invest in its vaccine production capacity to counter China’s vaccine diplomacy, according to Reuters.
On Wednesday, Zhao, while speaking about Covid-19 vaccinations, said China has carried out vaccine research and development as well as production cooperation with about a dozen countries that saw the participation of more than a lakh volunteers of over 100 nationalities.
He said that 60 countries have authorised the use of Chinese vaccines and Beijing was committed to giving 10 million, or 1 crore, vaccines to COVAX – a World Health Organization-backed initiative to supply vaccines to developing countries.
Speaking about the Quad meeting, India’s Ministry of External Affairs had earlier said that the leaders will talk about regional and global matters of shared interest and discuss “practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region”.
The US had emphasised on the significance of the meeting too. Biden has made the summit one of his earliest multilateral engagements, and that it shows the importance US gave to close cooperation with its allies in the Indo-Pacific region.
The official media in China sees Quad as an alliance to check China’s rise, according to PTI. A commentary in the state-run Global Times read: “The busy schedule of arrangements seems, to Chinese observers, like a water-testing move from the US to sound out its Asian partners’ attitude toward forming an unbreakable alliance to counter China’s rise”.
At the Second Quad Ministerial Meeting in October, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said that the alliance could be a “fabric” to counter Chinese threat. “Once we’ve institutionalised what we’re doing – the four of us together – we can begin to build out a true security framework,” he had added.