China on Wednesday praised US Vice President Mike Pence’s comments on Indo-Pacific countries, saying China hopes the US will keep its word and apply its non-aggressive stance to all countries in the world.
During a seven-day trip in Asia starting in Japan, Pence reassured Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of a US commitment to the Indo-Pacific Region on Tuesday, saying “authoritarianism and aggression have no place in the Indo-Pacific,” before he departed to Singapore, to participate in the US-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit.
“We seek an Indo-Pacific where every nation, from the shores of the Indian Ocean to the West Coast of the Americas, east to west, north to south, are free to follow their own paths, pursue their own interests, and where the seas and skies are open to all engaged in peaceful activity; where sovereign nations grow stronger together,” Pence said during a press conference after meeting with Abe on Tuesday.
Pence’s comments were welcomed by China on Wednesday. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told the Global Times at a daily press briefing that “Mr. Pence’s comments that he wants all countries in the region to be free to choose their own paths are very good.”
“China always maintains that all countries respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, do not invade each other and do not interfere in each other’s internal affairs. Countries have the right to independently choose development paths suited to their national conditions,” Hua noted.
“We hope that the US will keep its word and respect and support countries not only in Asia but also the rest of the world in following their own paths.”
Despite its commitment in the Indo-Pacific region, the US has seen China as its main competitor in Asia, and has tried to bind fast-growing Asian powers to US-backed orders to counter China.
On Wednesday, Nikki reported that an informal grouping of the US, India, Australia and Japan, known as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, plans to hold its third meeting in Singapore this week. The report said the meeting will focus on ways to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Since the US, the leading member of the Quad, has said that they would stand up to anyone who threatens [their] interests and values, it is apparent that they are likely to give more teeth to this policy and it would be aimed at China,” Shamshad A. Khan, visiting associate fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies, told the Nikki.
Li Kaisheng, a research fellow at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the four countries may talk about the strategy to counter China’s development, but this won’t have a big impact. “As long as China continues its policy of opening up its economy and safeguarding regional security and stability, the majority of the four countries will find many common interests with China. Following the US to contain China isn’t in their own interests,” Li said.