The entire Indo-Pacific region will benefit from Quad and any reservations to the activities of the four-nation bloc is possibly a "unilateralist opposition to a collective and cooperative endeavours," External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday, in an apparent reference to China's objection.
The Quad or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue comprising India, the US, Japan and Australia was set up in 2017 to counter China's aggressive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific region.
Speaking at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University here on 'India's Vision of the Indo-Pacific', Jaishankar said the Quad is the most prominent plurilateral platform that addresses contemporary challenges and opportunities in the Indo-Pacific.
"It has in recent years been meeting at the highest level, we had a summit in Tokyo a few months ago and that itself is an indication of how substantive its work has become." he said.
The energies of the Quad, Jaishankar said, are directed at a very broad range of activities. They range from maritime safety and security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, cyber security, critical and emerging technologies and connectivity to education, health and even space cooperation.
"The role of the Quad in the delivery of public goods can also be very significant. We are confident that the entire Indo-Pacific region will benefit from its activities. And that is validated by the growing recognition of its importance in the international community," he asserted.
"If there are reservations in any quarter, these stem from a desire to exercise a veto on the choices of others. And possibly a unilateralist opposition to a collective and cooperative endeavours," Jaishankar underlined without naming any country.
China's foreign ministry has repeatedly opposed the US-led Quad grouping.
It has said that the Indo-Pacific strategy "cooked up" by the US, in the name of "freedom and openness", is keen on forming "cliques". China claims that the grouping intends to "change China's surrounding environment". Its purpose is to contain China and make Asia-Pacific countries serve as "pawns" of the US hegemony.
India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's rising military manoeuvring in the resource-rich region.
China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea. China also has territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea.
Talking about how India sees the Indo-Pacific, its growth and its opportunities, Jaishankar said, "We consider the Indo-Pacific as a region that extends from the Eastern shores of Africa to the Western shores of America." This is an increasingly seamless space that is home to more than 64% of the global population and which contributes over 60% of world's GDP. About half of the global trade happens through the maritime trade routes in this region, he said.
"Over the years, this region has seen strong and sustained economic growth spreading across the Pacific rim, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Gulf region and the East and Southern Coast of Africa. More integration and more collaboration will only add to prosperity and progress," Jaishankar noted.
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