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Quad opposes ‘change by force’ with eyes on China

TOKYO — Leaders of Japan, Australia, the United States and India said Tuesday they oppose all attempts to "change the status quo by force, particularly in the Indo-Pacific."

The statement, which followed a summit meeting of the four members of the so-called Quad alliance, comes with international pressure on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, and growing concern about whether Beijing could try to forcibly seize self-ruled Taiwan.

"As Russia's invasion of Ukraine is shaking the fundamental principles of the international order... [we] confirmed that unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force will never be tolerated anywhere, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region," Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.

The meeting was attended by US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian premier Anthony Albanese and Kishida.  

In a joint statement, the leaders made specific reference to "the militarization of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia and efforts to disrupt other countries' offshore resource exploitation activities"—all activities China is accused of carrying out regionally.

But they avoided explicit condemnation of either China or Russia.

India is the only Quad member that has declined to publicly criticize Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

After talks in Tokyo, the Quad nations also agreed on a new maritime monitoring initiative that is expected to bolster surveillance of Chinese activity in the region.

And they announced a plan to spend at least $50 billion on infrastructure projects and investment in the region over the next five years.

The moves come with worries over recent Chinese efforts to build ties with Pacific nations including the Solomon Islands, which sealed a wide-ranging security pact with Beijing last month.

"We are committed to working closely with partners and the region to drive public and private investment to bridge gaps," they said in a joint statement.

"To achieve this, [the] Quad will seek to extend more than $50 billion of infrastructure assistance and investment in the Indo-Pacific, over the next five years." — Agence France-Presse