With US pitching for a quadrilateral security dialogue with India, Japan and Australia, a wary China today said it has no objection to “normal cooperation” between the countries but it should not be aimed at a “third party”.
“We have no objection to relevant countries normal cooperation, but we believe that relevant cooperation should not be targeted against third party,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters here without directly mentioning China.
He was responding to a question on remarks made by Admiral Harry B Harris, Jr Commander, US Pacific Command, in New Delhi, proposing a quadrilateral cooperation between the US, India, Japan and Australia.
“One idea to consider is initiating a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between India-Japan-Australia and the United States. Adding the US into this dialogue can amplify the message that we are united behind the international rules-based order that has kept the peace and is essential to all of us,” he had said.
Though he did not specifically mention China, Admiral Harris said powerful countries were seeking to “bully smaller nations through intimidation and coercion” and made the case that a broad naval collaboration was the best way to avert it, media reports said. He also hoped for a joint patrol in the Asia Pacific region in future.
Hong also gave a similar reply to a question on Malabar exercises held in December last in which Japan was invited to take part along with the US and India.
“We hope that cooperation among relevant countries will be conducive to regional peace and stability as well as security instead of harming interests of a third party,” he said.
Hong’s remarks come in the backdrop of two articles in the last few days in state-run Global Times which lashed out US’ attempts to rope in India for joint patrols in the disputed South China Sea.
While one article said India cannot afford to loose China’s support by joining US patrols, another article on February 26 in the same daily said, “any move by India to join the US navy for jointly patrolling the disputed South China Sea will be against its national interest and it would divide Asian countries and further escalate regional tensions.”