US strategy for the Indo-Pacific as ‘dangerous’ as Nato expansion, warns China

Vice foreign minister Le Yucheng criticised US strategy for the Indo-Pacific in strong words, saying the formation of blocs reveal a Cold War mentality

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends the virtual Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) with US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in Tokyo on Thursday. (ANI)

China’s vice foreign minister Le Yucheng on Saturday said the US strategy for the Indo-Pacific is as “dangerous” as the eastward expansion of Nato in Europe, issuing what appeared to be a veiled warning against the Quad grouping of countries.

“With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Nato should have been consigned to history alongside the Warsaw Pact,” Le, China’s former envoy to India, said on Saturday, addressing the International Forum on Security and Strategy hosted by the Centre for International Security and Strategy of Tsinghua University in Beijing.

“However, rather than breaking up, Nato has kept strengthening and expanding. One could well anticipate the consequences of going down this path. The crisis in Ukraine is a stern warning,” he said.

China, which has not called Russia’s actions in Ukraine an invasion and criticised economic sanctions against Moscow, says Nato’s plans to admit Ukraine heightened tensions with Russia culminating in what President Vladimir Putin called a “special military operation” in its neighbouring country.

“All sides need to jointly support Russia and Ukraine in having dialogue and negotiation that will produce results and lead to peace,” Le said.

“One should not seek its own absolute security,” Le said at the forum.

Le criticised the US strategy for the Indo-Pacific in strong words, saying the formation of blocs reveals a Cold War mentality.

“Going against the trend to pursue the Indo-Pacific strategy, provoke trouble, put together closed and exclusive small circles or groups, and get the region off course toward fragmentation and bloc-based division is as dangerous as the Nato strategy of eastward expansion in Europe,” the minister said.

“If allowed to go on unchecked, it would bring unimaginable consequences, and ultimately push the Asia-Pacific over the edge of an abyss,” Le warned.

“We in Asia must keep the future firmly in our own hands, pursue independent, balanced and prudent foreign policies, and seek strength through unity in the process of Asia-Pacific regional integration,” Le said, according to excerpts of his address posted on the Chinese foreign ministry website.

China has recently stepped up its criticism of the Quad – comprised of India, US, Japan and Australia – saying the grouping is akin to an Asian Nato.

Earlier this month, Chinese state councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi in his annual press conference said Washington seeks to create an Asian Nato to “suppress” Beijing.

“The real goal for the Indo-Pacific strategy is to establish an Indo-Pacific version of Nato,” Wang said at the press conference earlier this month.

India’s external affairs minister, S Jaishankar dismissed the notion, calling it a “lazy analogy”.

“Quad is a grouping of four countries who have common interests, common values, a great deal of comfort, who happen to be located at four corners of the Indo-Pacific, who found out that in this world no country, not even the US, has the ability to address global challenges all on their own,” Jaishankar said at the Munich Security Conference last month.

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