Context: Indian Prime Minister joined the U.S. President Joseph Biden, Australian PM Scott Morrison and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga for a virtual summit of the Quadrilateral Framework (Quad).
- Access to COVID-19 vaccines, cooperation on technology, and climate change were at the top of the agenda.
- It is the first meeting of leaders of the Indo-Pacific grouping. The ‘Quad’, has been taken to the “apex level”.
A joint statement, titled ‘The Spirit of the Quad’, was released.
Shared values: Quad is united by our democratic values and our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.
The Indo-Pacific region should be governed in accordance to human rights.
- The region should be governed by international law, committed to upholding universal values and free from coercion.
Global good: Its agenda, covering areas like vaccines, climate change, and emerging technologies make the Quad a force for global good.
The member nations agreed to ensure “equitable” access to vaccines to counter the pandemic.
- Japan, U.S. and Australia will finance the vaccine initiative.
- There was wholesome appreciation of the Vaccine Maitri initiative.
- Outcomes: The vaccine expert working group, a critical and emerging technology working group, and a climate working group for technology, capacity building and climate finance have been cleared during the summit.
- Improving political prospects:
- It widened the forum’s focus away from military security and towards the provision of public goods in the vast Indo-Pacific littoral.It has improved its own long-term political prospects.
- The decision to pool their resources — American technology, Japanese finance, Indian production capacity and Australia’s logistics capability — and produce a billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine for distribution in the Indo-Pacific helps the four countries develop a new narrative for the Quad.
- Countering Chinese narrative:
- The leaders of the four nations made it clear that the Quad is neither a military alliance nor an anti-China coalition.
- China has labeled the forum as the “Asian NATO” and the harbinger of a “new Cold War”.
- The Chinese leadership dismissed it as transient “sea-foam”.
- The repurposing of the Quad to deal with shared challenges in the Indo-Pacific ensures the forum’s political sustainability over the longer term.
- Addressing pandemic challenge: The challenges posed by the pandemic presented a perfect setting for the Quad nations to demonstrate their commitment to the broader agenda that is in tune with the urgent requirements of the region.
- Mutual beneficial relationship with China: All four Quad nations have huge stakes in a productive, peaceful and mutually beneficial relationship with China that has risen to become the world’s second largest economic and military power.
It is up to Beijing now to rethink its current aggressive policies and seek cooperative relations with its Asian neighbours and the US. But if China continues to pursue hegemony, the Quad is bound to become an inevitable balancing force.
Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD)
- Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) is the informal strategic dialogue with a shared objective to ensure and support a “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region.
- It is an informal strategic forum between the United States, Japan, Australia and India.
- It has a shared objective of ensuring a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
- The idea of grouping was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007.