We cannot be naive about China's ambitions, Quad can send powerful message, says former US envoy Armbruster

New Delhi, IndiaUpdated: Jun 19, 2021, 11:37 PM IST
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Representatives of Quad nations in Tokyo (File Photo) Photograph:(Reuters)

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Armbruster said if Quad is to be successful, there is a need to redouble our commitments to democratic principles

Noting that the world cannot be naive about Beijing`s current ambitions, Thomas Hart Armbruster, a former US Ambassador to the Marshall Islands, said on Saturday that Quad is a powerful bloc that can send a powerful message by harmonising its common position on important issues like human rights in China.

Speaking at the inaugural event of 'Global Policy Insights' QUAD Forum, Armbruster said if Quad is to be successful, there is a need to redouble our commitments to democratic principles.

The event was held in virtual mode. "Today, we are in a time of competition with China. Military competition, competition for influence, and competition for the very way our own people are governed and live. Our major competition might not be ready to play by the established rules.

The United States, Japan, India, and Australia are formidable bloc. Bigger in population than China, well versed and rising to global challenges, and a common vision for the most part in the Biden era," Armbruster said.

"We have established and lived by democratic norms that have been set up for decades, if not for centuries. However, if the Quad is to be successful, we need to redouble our commitments to democratic principles," he added.

Armbruster noted that Quad has to more than just a security arrangement."If all our resources are devoted to military competition, we will certainly lose climate change and environmental challenge. Together we can work with China for a clear future and perhaps shift our competition to who can build the next generation of cleaner power. But we can`t hide our difference on humans rights issues in China, like the treatment of Uyghurs and Tibetans. Harmonizing our common position on these important issues sends a powerful message to Beijing," he said.

"We can't be naive about Chinese current ambitions and we have our own current equities and discrimination to face," he added.

He referred to China trying to expand its global footprint."For the Pacific island countries, it came down to China or Taiwan. The Marshall Islands is for example sticking with the United States. Another compact of free association country Palau went with China over Taiwan, as their diplomatic partner. And now they have thousands of Chinese tourists every year, for better and worse," he said.

He said that anti-Asian hate crimes in the US were not acceptable.

"In the US, we have seen anti-Asian hate crime spike, during the pandemic as people blame China and then by association anyone looking Asian. This is not acceptable.

"He said the Quad countries should emerge as viable models for China and Russia. "Let`s hope China and Russia see countries like Japan, United States, India, and Australia as viable models for their futures, even if they don`t admit it. This won't be a fast process or an immediately successful one.

"Answering a query about China trying to project a lovable panda image, he said in diplomacy, every country is acting in their own interest.

"If that image bolsters' China's objective, then that is something that they will adopt. Even in these multilateral groupings, each of our countries is doing it because we see it as a benefit for our own country," he said.

The QUAD Forum is an initiative of Global Policy Insights, a centrist policy institute, aimed at fostering dialogue and understanding around the Quad grouping of nations comprising of the United States, India, Japan and Australia.

The first Leaders` Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework was held virtually in March this year.