Tokyo/New Delhi: Amid China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, Quad leaders on Tuesday said they will champion adherence to international law and the freedom of navigation and overflight in the region.
“We will champion adherence to international law, particularly as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the maintenance of freedom of navigation and overflight, to meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the East and South China Seas,” the joint statement issued after the Summit read.
The Quad leaders further said that they will “strongly oppose any coercive, provocative or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo and increase tensions in the area, such as the militarisation of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities.”
The Quad leaders said their grouping is committed to cooperation with partners in the region who share the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The joint statement talked about Ukraine but made no mention of Russia.
“We discussed our respective responses to the conflict in Ukraine and the ongoing tragic humanitarian crisis, and assessed its implications for the Indo-Pacific. Quad Leaders reiterated our strong resolve to maintain the peace and stability in the region,” the statement said.
The leaders said they underscored unequivocally that the centerpiece of the international order is international law, including the UN Charter, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states.
We also emphasised that all countries must seek peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, the statement added.
They further reaffirmed their “unwavering support for ASEAN unity and centrality and for the practical implementation of ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.”
“We welcome the EU’s Joint Communication on the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific which was announced in September 2021 and increased European engagement in the Indo-Pacific region,” the joint statement said.
The Quad leaders said that individually and collectively, they will further strengthen their cooperation with Pacific island countries, to enhance their economic well being, strengthen health infrastructure and environmental resilience, to improve their maritime security and sustain their fisheries, to provide sustainable infrastructure, to bolster educational opportunities, and to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, which pose especially serious challenges for this region.
“We are committed to working together to address the needs of Pacific island partners. We reaffirmed our support for Pacific Islands Forum unity and for Pacific regional security frameworks,” the joint statement said.
The Quad leaders said they will deepen their cooperation in multilateral institutions, including at the United Nations.
“We reaffirm our commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, consistent with United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) and also reconfirm the necessity of immediate resolution of the issue of Japanese abductees,” the joint statement said.
The Quad leaders also condemned North Korea’s destabilizing ballistic missile development and launches, including multiple intercontinental ballistic missile tests.
We urge North Korea to abide by all of its obligations under the UNSCRs, refrain from provocations, and engage in substantive dialogue, the joint statement said.
The Quad leaders said they remain deeply concerned by the crisis in Myanmar, which has caused “grave humanitarian suffering and posed challenges to regional stability.”
“We continue to call for the immediate end to violence in Myanmar, the release of all political detainees, including foreigners, engagement in constructive dialogue, humanitarian access, and the swift restoration of democracy,” the joint statement said.
Further Quad leaders said they reaffirmed their support for ASEAN-led efforts to seek a solution in Myanmar and welcome the role of Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair.
“We further call for the urgent implementation of the ASEAN Five Point Consensus,” the statement added.