'Quad' nations' top navy officials attack hegemonic aspirations of China

'Quad' nations' top navy officials attack hegemonic aspirations of China

The Commander of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris Jr., on Thursday called China "a disruptive force" in Indo-Pacific, as he joined top military officials of Japan, Australia and India at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi.

"China is a disruptive, transitional force in the Indo-Pacific," Admiral Harris said,  speaking at the conclave held by the   Ministry of External Affairs in partnership with Delhi-based think tank Observer Research Partnership.

He was addressing a session titled "Unchartered waters: In search for Order in the Indo-Pacific," sharing the podium with Japan's Chief of Joint Staff Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, Chief of Australian Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett and Chief of Indian Navy Admiral Sunil Lanba.

The top naval officers of US, Japan, Australia and India came together in New Delhi just two months after the diplomats of the four nations re-launched a quadrilateral initiative in Indo-Pacific to counter the hegemonic aspirations of China.

Harris noted all like-minded nations in Indo-Pacific should come together to ensure peace and stability in the region. He said that North Korea and terrorism were other threats in the region, besides China.

"We must be willing to take the tough decisions in 2018 against unilateral ways to change the use of the global commons with rules-based freedom of navigation," the US Pacific Command chief said

Admiral Kawano of Japan alleged that Beijing had violated international rules in East China Sea and South China Sea. "China's military power is becoming more powerful and expanding. In the East and South China Seas, China has been ignoring international law. In order to deter Chinese provocations, India, the US, Australia and Japan have to cooperate with one another," he said.

Vice Admiral Barrett of Australia stressed on the need for a meaningful outcome from the discussions. "We should maintain faith in existing regional frameworks, but we must use them more effectively," he said.

Unviable moves

Admiral Lanba said China's Navy had over the past few years made big changes to its deployment patterns in waters around India. "They are developing ports and infrastructure that are not viable. They have a base in Djibouti. They have developed a port in Hambantota (in Sri Lanka) though we have been told there will be no (permanent) presence (of the Chinese navy) there," he said.

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