Blinken raises China concern at Quad

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Secretary of State says Quad grouping deserves the freedom to work together and associate with whom they choose to benefit people, reports Asian Lite News

Raising concern about the increasing aggressiveness of China, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday said Quad grouping deserves the freedom to work together and associate with whom they choose to benefit people.

Australia is hosting India, Japan and the United States for the fourth Quad Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Melbourne on Friday and the top diplomats are seeking to bolster cooperation in areas including economy, security, Covid-19 pandemic and free and open Indo-Pacific.

Blinken made these remarks in the presence of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

“What’s so striking to me as we get together is, that this is a group of countries brought together not by what we are against but what we are for. That quite simply is a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Blinken.

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with senior officers of the 14th army group in Kunming capital city of southwest China’s Yunnan Province

“People deserve to live freely, countries deserve to have the freedom to work together and associate with whom they choose. Together we can demonstrate that we are effective in bringing benefits to all of our people,” US Secretary of State added.

Responding to a question on confrontation with China in Indo-Pacific, Blinken said that “nothing is inevitable”.

“We share concerns in recent years, China has been acting more repressively, and more aggressively in the region, and, indeed, potentially, beyond. But, as I said, what brings us together what unites us is an affirmative vision for what the future can bring,” Blinken said.

Talking about the Quad group’s focus, Blinken said, “But also a commitment to defend the rules-based system that we have spent tremendous time and effort building over these many years, wherever it’s vital, never it’s challenged. So that’s what we’re focused on.”

He further reiterated that “what brings us together is very much about the future that we’re for that we’re trying to build together.”

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) is a partnership of four nations, each of whom shares a commitment to openness, transparency and challenges coming out of the current global order.

‘Century will be shaped by Indo-Pacfic region’

The Indo-Pacific is the fastest growing region in the world, accounting for two-thirds of global economic growth over the past five years and home to half the world’s population, Blinken said.

What matters in the region matters around the world and challenges like climate change and Covid-19 can’t be tackled by any nation alone, he said.

“More than ever before, we need partnerships, we need alliances, we need coalitions of countries willing to put their efforts, their resources, their minds into tackling these problems,” Blinken said.

“What really drives us is a shared vision” of a “free and open society,” he added.

Blinken’s trip is designed to reinforce America’s interests in Asia and its intent to push back against increasing Chinese assertiveness in the region. He will also visit Fiji and discuss pressing concerns about North Korea with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts in Hawaii.

Blinken said like-minded countries were standing up for shared values rather than against China.

“This is not about standing against anyone in particular, it is about standing up for a rules-based order,” Blinken told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Asked whether the Biden administration viewed Russia or China as the greater threat to global security, Blinken replied: “These are … very different challenges. Russia right now poses an immediate challenge.”

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