• Senior officials from the Foreign Ministries of “the Quad” group of countries — India, the U.S., Australia and Japan — met virtually on Friday, during the United Nations high level week, as part of their periodic consultations on the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Officials discussed ongoing and proposed practical cooperation in the areas of connectivity and infrastructure development.
  • Noting the importance of digital connectivity and secure networks, the officials discussed ways to promote the use of trusted vendors, particularly for fifth generation (5G) networks.
  • In an effort to stop Chinese G5 giant Huawei from setting up shop networks in other countries, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has been promoting “clean telcos” — a list of companies considered by the U.S. administration to be free from security risks and the risk of surveillance by the Chinese government.
  • Other topics discussed by the Quad officials, included counter-terrorism, cyber and maritime security, and quality infrastructure in the region. 

ASEAN inclusiveness

  • Both countries’ statements say the officials committed support to the concept of ASEAN-centrality in the Indo-Pacific and ASEAN’s leadership in the architecture of the region.
  • The U.S. statement says the officials “explored ways to work together in the Mekong sub-region, in the South China Sea, and across the Indo-Pacific to support international law, pluralism, regional stability, and post-pandemic recovery efforts”.
  • The MEA statement says the officials reiterated their readiness to work with ASEAN and all other countries towards realising “a common and promising vision for the Indo-Pacific”.
  • The U.S. statement describes collective efforts to advance “a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region”. 
  • The phrase normally used by US is “free and open Indo-Pacific”.
  •  India had, at least initially since the Quad was revived after a ten year hiatus in 2017, been hesitant for the Quad to be seen as a framework to exclude or contain China. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had articulated an inclusive vision for the Indo Pacific in 2018 at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore, when India-China relations were on a high relative to this year, when there have been tensions and clashes along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).