Quad Leaders Forge United Front, Take Veiled Jibe At Beijing

The Asian Age.  | Sridhar Kumaraswami

India, All India

The Quad leaders vowed continued cooperation with Indo-Pacific partners to meet the region’s infrastructure priorities

U.S. President Joe Biden, from left, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi hold a Quad meeting on the sidelines of the G7 summit, in Hiroshima, western Japan, Saturday. (Photo: AP/PTI)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday evening participated in the Quad summit along with US President Joe Biden, Japanese PM Fumio Kishida and Australian PM Anthony Albanese. At the summit meeting, in a thinly veiled message aimed at Chinese military assertiveness, the four leaders declared that the Quad nations "seeks a region where no country dominates and no country is dominated -- one where all countries are free from coercion and can exercise their agency to determine their futures" and that "our four countries are united by this shared vision".

In a bid to tackle Chinese economic clout in the region and in another veiled jibe at Beijing, the Quad leaders announced a slew of measures, including continuing infrastructure support to countries in the Indo-Pacific region "without imposing unsustainable debt burdens".

The Summit also decided on the evolution of the Quad vaccine partnership into a broader Quad health security partnership to "strengthen coordination and collaboration in support of health security in the Indo-Pacific".

The Quad leaders announced a clean energy supply chain initiative designed to accelerate the Indo-Pacific’s clean energy transition. They also announced a new initiative to boost infrastructure expertise across the Indo-Pacific -- the Quad Infrastructure Fellowships Programme that aims to empower more than 1,800 of the region’s infrastructure practitioners to design, build and manage quality infrastructure in their home countries.

In addition, while recognising the "urgent need to support quality undersea cable networks in the Indo-Pacific", the Quad announced a new Quad partnership for cable connectivity and resilience’ that will strengthen cable systems in the Indo-Pacific.

The Quad also "welcomed the launch of the private sector-led Quad Investors Network (QUIN), which aims to facilitate investments in strategic technologies, including clean energy, semiconductors, critical minerals, and quantum."

At the summit, Mr Modi emphasised the importance of consolidating Quad’s constructive agenda and delivering tangible outcomes for the region and also invited Quad leaders to India for the next Quad Summit in 2024.

In a clear message to Beijing, though without naming it, the Quad issued a joint statement mentioning "full resolve to uphold peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific maritime domain and strongly oppose destabilising or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo by force or coercion".

The joint statement said: "We emphasise the importance of adherence to international law, particularly as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the maintenance of freedom of navigation and overflight in addressing challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including those in the East and South China Seas. We express serious concern at the militarisation of disputed features, the dangerous use of coastguard and maritime militia vessels and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities. We emphasise that disputes should be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law, without threat or use of force."

On the Ukraine conflict, the Quad leaders expressed their "deep concern over the war raging in Ukraine" and recognised its impacts on the global economic system, including on food, fuel and energy security and critical supply chains. Vowing to continue to render humanitarian assistance to Ukraine for its recovery, the Quad leaders reiterated Mr Modi’s vision by reiterating that "ours must not be an era of war (and) we remain committed to dialogue and diplomacy". They also declared that "the use, or threat of use, of nuclear weapons is serious and inadmissible".

The Quad also once again "unequivocally condemned terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations, including cross-border terrorism," in what is seen as a clear message to Pakistan. "We are committed to working together to promote accountability for the perpetrators of such terrorist attacks. We reiterate our condemnation of terrorist attacks, including the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai and in Pathankot and our commitment to pursuing designations, as appropriate, by the UN Security Council 1267 Sanctions Committee," the Quad joint statement declared.

On infrastructure support, the Quad leaders vowed continued cooperation with Indo-Pacific partners to meet the region’s infrastructure priorities.

On clean energy, the joint statement said, "We announce a clean energy supply chain initiative designed to accelerate the Indo-Pacific’s clean energy transition."