NEW DELHI: Ahead of the first Quad summit, Japan on Tuesday ramped up criticism of China as it said PM Yoshihide Suga in a phone conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concerns regarding unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas, the situation in Hong Kong and Xinjiang and also China’s new coast guard law.
The Indian readout of the conversation was silent on these issues even as official sources said the security situation in the region was discussed in the 40-minute conversation. But the pointed Japanese references touched on all issues Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi had described as Beijing’s internal matters at a lengthy annual press conference two days ago. The Indian government said Modi and Suga emphasised that their engagement with like-minded countries like Australia and the US in the form of Quad consultations held value and agreed that these discussions must continue. Quad is expected to hold its first-ever summit in the virtual mode later this week.
“Modi and Suga shared the recognition that cooperation towards realising a free and open Indo-Pacific is becoming increasingly important and to this end, shared the view to steadily advance both Japan-India bilateral cooperation and Japan-Australia-India-US quadrilateral cooperation,” the Japanese readout said. Modi also invited Suga to visit India at the earliest for the summit.