In a clear signal to Beijing and its growing violence at war in the Indo-Pacific region, leaders of the Quad group said Saturday that they are re-pledging to promote the free, open, rules-based order that is rooted in international law and not divorced from it Force deterrence strengthens security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and beyond â.
The reference to “intrepid by coercion” is the most direct anti-China articulation from the leaders of four “like-minded democracies” who met for the first-ever personal quad summit in the White House.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japan’s outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga met for about two hours and pledged to ensure a “free and open” Indo-Pacific that is also “inclusive and resilient” is a time when China’s assertiveness is growing in the region.
Options for the region
The quad initiatives are designed to counter China’s claim, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. To offer an alternative to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, the Quad chose an infrastructure coordination group.
And for the first time, the Quad leaders discussed Afghanistan and agreed to deepen their cooperation in South Asia – a major development since Beijing expanded its strategic presence in the neighborhood of India.
In their joint statement it says: “In South Asia we will closely coordinate our diplomatic, economic and human rights policy towards Afghanistan and in the coming months we will deepen our cooperation on counter-terrorism and humanitarian aid in accordance with UNSCR 2593.”
“We denounced the use of terrorist proxies and stressed the importance of denying terrorist groups any logistical, financial or military support that could be used to launch or plan terrorist attacks, including cross-border attacks,” they said in a thinly veiled reference to Pakistan.
“We stand together to support Afghan nationals and call on the Taliban to provide safe passage for all those who wish to leave Afghanistan and to ensure that the human rights of all Afghans, including women, children and minorities, are respected”, joint statement said.
The Quad leaders also signed a new statement entitled âQuad Principles on Technology Design, Development, Governance, and Useâ – one of the key principles: âTechnology should not be misused or abused for malicious activities such as authoritarian surveillance and suppression, too terrorist purposes or to spread disinformation. “
This is aimed at countries like China, but is growing in importance given the debate in India over the alleged use of Pegasus spyware for surveillance.
Building on the virtual summit in March this year, the Quad leaders agreed to work together on a number of areas – vaccines, infrastructure, semiconductor supply chain, cybersecurity, satellite data, and STEM expertise development. And in each of these areas, Beijing is seen to be aggressively advancing its agenda, and the Quad is using its gentle power to seek alternatives to the world.
- The Quad Infrastructure Coordination Group: âA high level Quad Infrastructure Coordination Group will meet regularly to share assessments of regional infrastructure needs and to coordinate the respective approaches to providing a transparent, high standard infrastructure. The group will also coordinate technical assistance and capacity building efforts, including with regional partners, to ensure that efforts are mutually reinforcing and complementary to meet the significant infrastructure needs in the Indo-Pacific.
This is a direct alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
- Vaccines: As Quad Countries, we are committed to donating more than 1.2 billion vaccine doses worldwide, in addition to the doses we funded through Covax. To date, we have collectively delivered nearly 79 million safe and effective doses of vaccine to the Indo-Pacific region. Our vaccine partnership remains on track to expand production at Biological E Ltd this fall so that at least 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines can be produced by the end of 2022. “
One of the key takeaways from the first Quad executives’ summit in March was the creation of the Quad Vaccine Initiative, a vaccine supply chain producing Covid-19 vaccines for India, the United States, Japan and Australia. The Biological E Limited has been selected to manufacture one billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
- Semiconductor Supply Chain Initiative: âThe Quad partners will launch a joint initiative to map capacities, identify weak points and strengthen supply chain security for semiconductors and their vital components. This initiative will help Quad Partners support a diverse and competitive marketplace that spawns the secure critical technologies that are essential to the digital economy worldwide. “
- Quad Senior Cyber ââGroup: âExecutive level experts will meet regularly to advance the work between government and industry to drive continuous improvement in areas including the adoption and implementation of common cyber standards; Secure software development; Workforce and talent building; and promoting the scalability and cybersecurity of a secure and trustworthy digital infrastructure. “
- Satellite data exchange: âOur four countries will start discussions on the exchange of earth observation satellite data and analysis of the risks of climate change and the sustainable use of the oceans and marine resources. The exchange of this data will help the Quad countries to better adapt to climate change and, in coordination with the Quad Climate Working Group, to build capacities in other Indo-Pacific countries that are exposed to a major climate risk. “
- The Quad Scholarship: âThe scholarship will sponsor 100 students per year – 25 from each Quad country – to pursue Masters and PhD degrees at leading STEM graduate universities in the United States. It will serve as one of the world’s leading graduate scholarships; But the Quad Fellowship will uniquely focus on STEM and bring together the top minds from Australia, India, Japan and the United States. “
The heads of state and government agreed that they and their foreign ministers would meet annually and that high-ranking officials would meet regularly.
In his address at the summit, Biden said this is a grouping of âdemocratic partners who share a worldview and a common vision for the futureâ and âcome together to address the most important challenges of our time, from Covid to the climate to new technologies â.
He said, “Our vaccine initiative is on track to produce an additional billion doses of vaccine in India to increase global supply.”
Modi said Quad decided to “move forward with positive thinking and a positive approach” and “play the role of a force for global good”.