India avoids hurting China's Taiwan, HK sensitivities

India refrains from hurting China's Taiwan and Hong Kong sensitivities after Quad meeting

Whilst the US State Department mentioned reviewing strategic developments in South China Sea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India avoided mentioning it

Representative image. Credit: iStockPhoto

Even as India had yet another consultation with its ‘quad’ partners – Japan, Australia and the United States – this week, it cautiously avoided hurting the sensitivities of China on Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Senior diplomats of India, Japan, Australia and the United States had a virtual ‘quad’ consultation on Friday – following up on the meeting between ministers of the four nations that took place in Tokyo on October 6.

The ‘quad’ is largely seen as a US-led move to bring the democratic countries of the Indo-Pacific region together in order to build a bulwark against expansionist and hegemonic aspirations of China.

They “reviewed recent strategic developments throughout the Indo-Pacific region, including the South China Sea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Mekong sub-region”, the US State Department stated in a press release issued from Washington D.C. after the consultation among the diplomats of the four nations.

The press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi, however, did not have any specific reference to a discussion on Hong Kong, Mekong sub-region, South China Sea and Taiwan. Even as its soldiers are engaged a military stand-off with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in eastern Ladakh, New Delhi refrained from directly referring to discussion among the diplomats of the four nations on the communist country’s growing belligerence in the contested waters of the South China Sea as well as in the Taiwan Strait.

The press release issued by the MEA also had no reference to a discussion on Hong Kong, where the Chinese Government’s crackdown on democracy activists triggered concerns within the international community.

“The officials exchanged views on regional and global issues of common interest,” the MEA stated in its press release. “They also reviewed ongoing and proposed practical cooperation in the areas of connectivity and infrastructure development, and security issues, including counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, maritime security, humanitarian and disaster relief, with the objective of promoting peace, security, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region”.

The officials reaffirmed their commitment towards “a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region based on shared values and principles and respect for international law especially the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea),” added the MEA.

The virtual consultation among the ‘quad’ officials took place on a day Indian and Chinese diplomats had yet another video conference to end the military stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the de facto boundary between the two nations in the western sector.

The senior officials of the four nations underscored during the quad consultations the importance of enhancing the resilience of supply chains for an expeditious and sustainable global economic recovery. They also highlighted the need to ensure safe, effective and affordable access to Covid-19 vaccines, stated the MEA.