MELBOURNE/NEW DELHI: The 21-month-old India-China standoff in border regions along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh figured prominently in the recent Quad ministerial meeting held in Melbourne, with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar briefing his counterparts on China’s violation of written agreements vis-a-vis India.
“Yes, we (Quad) had a discussion on India-China relations because it was part of how we briefed each other about what was happening in our neighbourhood. It’s an issue in which a lot of countries legitimately take interest, particularly if they are from Indo-Pacific region,” Mr Jaishankar said at a joint press conference with his Australian counterpart Marise Payne in Melbourne on February 12.
Mr Jaishankar explained that the situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has arisen due to disregard by China of written agreements to not mobilise forces at the border. “So, when a large country disregards written commitments, I think it’s an issue of legitimate concern for the entire international community,” he added.
He stressed that the Quad would continue to work towards “rule-based international order, freedom of navigation in international waters, promoting connectivity, growth and security for all while respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states.”
In the Quad ministerial meeting held on February 11, alleged attempts by China to disrupt the rules-based international order figured prominently in discussions. The joint statement didn’t name China explicitly, but for those in the know, Beijing was the target in many formulations.
“We reiterate the importance of adherence to international law, particularly as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the South and East China Seas,” said a the joint statement, which was an oblique reminder to Beijing to stop its activities aimed at undermining the rules-based maritime border.
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