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Outcomes of Quad virtual summit-2021

  • 16 March, 2021

  • 8 Min Read

Outcomes of Quad virtual summit-2021

Introduction

  • The maiden Quadrilateral Security Dialogue summit of the leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. on March 12 was a defining moment in Asian geopolitics.
  • The Quad is no longer a loose coalition. The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 triggered cooperation among the navies and governments of the Quad powers.
  • They sought to forge diplomatic cooperation on regional issues in 2006-08, but gave up mainly because China objected to it and the hostility to China was not yet a potent enough glue.
  • This began to change in 2017 when Beijing’s behaviour turned hostile, climaxing in multiple challenges in 2020, including its adventurism in eastern Ladakh.

Summit outcomes

The summit’s outcome, therefore, merits close attention for at least five reasons.

  • Free, Open, Inclusive and Healthy Indo-pacific Region: The joint statement struck a neat compromise: to please the U.S. and Japan, it refers to a “free and open” Indo-Pacific, but in the very next sentence it offers an elaboration – “free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion” – that amply satisfy India and Australia.
  • Competition, cooperation and confrontation: Instead of unidimensional antagonism against China, the Quad members have preferred a smart blend of competition, cooperation and confrontation.
  • Equitable vaccine distribution: Equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for every person in need in the region from the western Pacific to eastern Africa.
    • It is both a laudable and doable objective, given the firm commitment of financial support by the U.S. and Japan, logistics and some funding from Australia, and the manufacturing and managerial capabilities of India.
    • This new synergy is a real highlight that should result in the production of one billion vaccine doses in India by 2022.
  • Working groups: The establishment of three working groups on vaccine partnership; climate change; and critical and emerging technologies (such as telecom and biotechnology) and their new standards, innovation and supply chains is a welcome step.
  • Annual summits: Foreign ministers will gather at least once a year; other relevant officials, more often. Thus, will grow the habits of the Quad working together for a common vision and with agreed modalities for cooperation.

Other aspects

  • Chinese concern: The Chinese see it in negative terms, targeting New Delhi in particular. The refrain of “India is moving too close to the U.S.” has, after the summit, become India is “a negative asset of BRICS and SCO”, as claimed by a Chinese government mouthpiece.
  • Korean crisis: Among other issues discussed, the Korean Peninsula drew particular attention. The commitment to the “complete de-nuclearization” of North Korea as per the United Nations Security Council resolutions was reiterated – a reference to the importance of South Korea as a partner of the Quad.
  • Restoration of democracy in Myanmar: On Myanmar, Washington heeded wise counsel from Asia. The call “to restore democracy and the priority of strengthening democratic resilience” is unexceptionable. It may help ASEAN in carrying forward its diplomatic initiative to promote reconciliation in Myanmar.

Way ahead

  • The summit and ‘The Spirit of the Quad’ – the inspired title of the joint statement – represented a giant leap forward.
  • Now is the time to back political commitment with a strong mix of resolve, energy, stamina and the fresh ideas of stakeholders and experts outside of government to fulfil the promise of the Quad.

 

 

Source: TH

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