First ever Quad summit: Eye on China

Quad members are holding the first ever summit.

By Mayank Kumar

The leaders of India, the US, Japan and Australia will hold their first summit in a virtual format under the framework of the Quadrilateral security dialogue or Quad on March 12, an emerging four-way alliance often cast as a bulwark against China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

Friday’s virtual meeting of the “Quad”, will be Joe Biden’s first summit since taking office as his administration sought to counter China’s military and trade expansion by strengthening alliances all over the world.

The White House in its statement said, “President Biden and this administration are committed to working with our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific to secure the peace, defend our shared values, and advance our prosperity,”.

The meeting of the “Quad” comes amid rising tensions with China, which is seen as flexing its muscle both in trade and security realms.

“The leaders will discuss regional and global issues of shared interest, and exchange views on practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region,” the Indian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “The Summit will provide an opportunity to exchange views on contemporary challenges such as resilient supply chains, emerging and critical technologies, maritime security, and climate change.” it added.

The summit follows talks on February 18 among the foreign ministers of the Quad when they pressed jointly for a restoration of democracy in Myanmar after the military ousted democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1. The foreign ministers of the Quad also vowed to uphold a rules-based international order underpinned by respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, freedom of navigation and peaceful resolution of disputes.

A range of topics facing the global community is expected to be discussed “from the threat of COVID to economic cooperation and, of course, to the climate crisis.

Chinese media has time and again called on India to end the Quad, as it views New Delhi as the most likely threat and a “buck-catcher” state in the United States grand strategy to counter China.

But after the Ladakh clashes last year national consensus in India has grown in favour of joining United States in countering China.

Australia has also shown growing willingness to participate in the Quad  as it last year joined naval exercises with the three other nations off India’s shores.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that Biden was “taking this to another level.”

“It will be an historic moment in our region and it sends a strong message to the region about our support for a sovereign, independent Indo-Pacific,” Morrison said.

The Quad was launched in 2007 by Japan’s then Prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was alarmed at China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.

By Mayank Kumar with PTI inputs