Beijing: As the US, India, Australia and Japan are set to hold their first leaders’ summit of Quad on Friday, a wary China on Wednesday hoped that the four countries will do things that are “conducive” to regional peace and stability instead of the “opposite”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga will attend the virtual summit, which is the first conclave of the top leaders of the quadrilateral alliance, which was often projected in the official media in Beijing as an alliance against China’s rise.
Asked for his reaction to the first leaders’ summit of the Quad, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing in Beijing that China believes that any regional cooperation architecture should follow the principle of peaceful development and win-win cooperation, which is the prevailing trend of the times.
“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,” Zhao said.
In November 2017, India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the Quad to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.
The US has been favouring making Quad a security architecture to check China’s growing assertiveness.
A commentary in the state-run Global Times on the reports of Quad summit two days ago said: “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”.
Zhao also reacted cautiously when asked about the reports that Quad leaders will reach an agreement to increase their vaccine assistance to the developing countries to counter China’s vaccines diplomacy.
“China is a committed frontrunner in promoting international vaccine cooperation, but it is opposed to vaccine nationalism and politicisation of vaccine cooperation,” he said.
He said China has carried out vaccine R&D and production cooperation with dozen or so countries attracting more than a hundred thousand volunteers of over 100 nationalities.
Altogether 17 Chinese vaccines had entered clinical trials. More than 60 countries have authorised the use of these vaccines, he said, adding that China is committed to providing 10 million vaccines to COVAX – a WHO-backed initiative to supply vaccines to developing countries.
“The safety and effectiveness (of the) Chinese vaccines are earning recognition across the world. China is prepared to discuss with the other countries the feasibility and protocols for mutual recognition of vaccination,” he said.
China has already proposed to the US to facilitate international travel with mutual recognition.
Zhao said that an inspection team of the World Health Organisation (WHO) is in China to examine the Chinese vaccines.
“Now there are a number of vaccines available around the world. It’s up to each country to decide to choose. Whether it is a Chinese vaccine or not it is a good vaccine as long as it is safe and effective. China opposes vaccine nationalism. We reject any vaccine divide or any attempt to politicise vaccine cooperation,” the spokesman said.