New Delhi: Unlike the United States, India has declined to name China vis-a-vis the ties between two countries and the border standoff but made it clear that New Delhi wants "like-minded countries to coordinate responses to various challenges."
"Our objective remains advancing the security and the economic interests of all countries having legitimate and vital interests in the region," External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar said in his opening remarks at the second Quad Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday.
He also said: "As vibrant and pluralistic democracies with shared values, our nations have collectively affirmed the importance of maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific".
Without naming any country but seen as a veiled attack on Beijing, Dr Jaishankar said, India would remain "committed to upholding the rules-based international order, underpinned by the rule of law, transparency, freedom of navigation in the international seas, respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty and peaceful resolution of disputes".
For his part, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was at his combative best and accused China's governing Communist Party of "exploitation, corruption, and coercion".Essentially remaining forthright in blaming China for the pandemic "that came from Wuhan," he said this was "made infinitely worse by the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) cover-up."
"We've seen it in the south, in the East China Sea, the Mekong, the Himalayas, the Taiwan Straits. These are just a few examples," Pompeo said.
He urged three other Indo-Pacific democracies - India, Australia and Japan - to unite against coercions from China. "As partners in this Quad, it is more critical now than ever that we collaborate to protect our people and partners from the CCP's exploitation, corruption, and coercion".
The four leading democracies US, India, Australia, and Japan, which hosted the meet, reaffirmed to create a free and open Indo-Pacific region and create resilient supply chains trying to send a strong message to Beijing for its aggressive policies.
"The Foreign Ministers exchanged views about regional issues of mutual interest, and issues related to connectivity; humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; maritime safety and security; health security, and counter-terrorism," a statement said. The Quad also reiterated their firm support to ASEAN centrality and highlighted their readiness to work towards realizing a common vision for the Indo-Pacific.
The Quad, which was an informal grouping in 2007, was championed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and was generally aimed at seeking enhanced co-operation between the four democracies vis-a-vis a rapidly rising 'aggressive' China.
Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu, too, spoke of rules based order in the maritime domain and the need to take on board countries like France and Germany.
A new regime has taken charge in Japan recently, and reports suggest Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is likely to visit Tokyo soon.