Quad leaders agree to scale up collective strategic cooperation
Leaders of India, the United States, Japan, and Australia gathered on Friday for their first in-person summit as partners of the Quad alliance, promising to use their shared values as democracies to work on COVID-19 vaccines, infrastructure and technological cooperation.
The meeting is likely to be watched closely in Beijing, which criticised the group as “doomed to fail”. The four leaders each offered brief comments ahead of their meeting, which was likely to last about two hours.
“I am honoured to welcome the first in-person meeting of democratic partners, who share common values, coming together to take on key challenges of Covid, climate and emerging tech,” said US President Joe Biden, describing the grouping as a collective of nations that “know how get things done and are up to the challenge”.
The US President said the Quad is cooperating on a host of issues to work on its commitment to build a free and open Indo-Pacific, and said a new Quad fellowship for students pursuing advanced STEM courses will now be rolled out.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke next. “Our four countries first came together in 2004 to extend support in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami. Today, as the world grapples with Covid-19, we are meeting once again and working in the interest of humanity,” he said, while adding that the Quad vaccine initiative will greatly help countries in the Indo-Pacific.
Modi said he looked forward to the Quad partners working together on issues spanning supply chains, global security, climate action and Covid-19 response.
The Quad vaccine initiative, announced in March, involves manufacturing of a billion doses with the partners chipping in with funding and logistics.
Australian PM Scott Morrison said the Quad grouping was about “demonstrating how democracies such as ours get things done”. “We are liberal democracies, which believe in a world order of freedom,” he said.
His Japanese counterpart said the alliance demonstrates the strong solidarity between the four nations and their unwavering commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The group is expected to announce several agreements aimed directly at China, including one to bolster supply chain security for semiconductors and to combat illegal fishing and boost maritime domain awareness, a senior US official said, according to Reuters. It will also roll out a 5G partnership and plans for monitoring climate change.
The meeting comes just over a week after the United States, Britain and Australia announced an AUKUS security pact under which Australia will be provided with nuclear-powered submarines, a move that has been roundly denounced by Beijing.