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In message to China, Quad opposes militarisation of disputed features

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The Economic Times
25th May, 2022 00:20 IST

The Quad nations have made a strong statement opposing coercive and provocative actions such as militarisation of disputed features, in a clear reference to China that has been attempting territorial expansion in the region -- from moving forces to the Ladakh border to creating artificial islands and military bases in the South China Sea.

In a joint statement after the Quad leaders' summit in Tokyo, the nations resolved to work together for security and prosperity of the Indo Pacific by upping cooperation in maritime domain awareness, space-related applications, cyber security and announced a new joint Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) initiative.

Without naming China, the statement spelled out territorial threats that would be strongly countered. "We strongly oppose any coercive, provocative or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo and increase tensions in the area, such as the militarisation of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia, and efforts to disrupt other countries' offshore resource exploitation activities," it read.

India and Japan, in particular, are facing direct threats from an aggressive China, which has the fastest expanding military in the world and the second highest defence spending budget. In Ladakh, the border crisis which started in April 2020 when the PLA moved over 50,000 troops on the border in an unprovoked move amid the Covid 19 pandemic, still continues.

The joint statement did not delve deep into the Russia-Ukraine crisis but discussed at length the vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, noting challenges imposed by a militarily aggressive China. "We will champion adherence to international law and the maintenance of freedom of navigation and overflight, to meet the challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the East and South China Seas," it read.

As part of the measures to increase cooperation, a new maritime domain awareness initiative has been announced to combat illegal fishing and respond to humanitarian disaster.

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