The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or the Qaud was set up by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in August 2007 to counter China’s growing influence in Asia
The United States, Japan, India and Australia — referred to as the ‘Quad’ countries — will meet on Friday (March 12) in an online summit as part of efforts to counterbalance China’s growing military and economic power.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Australian and Japanese counterparts, Scott Morrison and Yoshihide Suga, respectively, and US President Joe Biden are scheduled to take part in the summit of the Quadrilateral group of nations. Now, several speculations are doing the rounds on the significance of the summit, especially against an aggressive China.
What is Quad?
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or the Quad was set up by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in August 2007 to counter China’s growing influence in Asia. Then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was part of the initial set-up, along with his Australian counterpart.
However, in 2008, Singh had said India was not part of any efforts against China, while Australia had also left the group. It was revived in 2017 during ASEAN Summit.
China, the focal point
Of late, Quad has grown into a full-fledged summit. This has been triggered by the increasingly aggressive moves that China has been making across Asia. Initially, just senior officials from all the four nations used to meet. Though none of the four nations will acknowledge that they are anti-China, Quad is seen as an attempt by them to contain China’s growing military and economic might.
The Donald Trump administration, earlier, had made China the focal point. Last year, in October, former US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, also spoke about threat from China during the meeting of the foreign ministers in Tokyo.
A BBC report quoted an announcement from PM Modi’s office, which stated: “The leaders will discuss regional and global issues of shared interest, and exchange views on practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.”
If a report carried in Outlook is anything to go by, then “a ‘rule-based free and open Indo-Pacific’ is in reference to China’s aggressive manoeuvres in South China and the larger Pacific Ocean.
What’s in store at Friday’s meet
This year, however, the priority could be COVID vaccines. A senior US administration official told Reuters that the group might announce financing agreements to support the manufacturing capacity for coronavirus vaccines in India.
US Secretary of State Tony Blinken had earlier said during a Congressional hearing that they were working to make sure that “we are a leading international actor in creating greater access to vaccines”.
China, meanwhile, said that it hoped that the Quad meet was being held to promote peace in the region and not “the opposite”.
“We hope the relevant countries will keep in mind the common interests of the regional countries, uphold the principles of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, besides doing things that are conducive to regional peace stability and prosperity,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.
China added that it was opposed to vaccine nationalism and the politicisation of cooperation.
What else will the meet cover?
This is the first online summit of the group of four nations. Also, it will be the first since its revival in 2017. The meeting is expected to cover a range of topics from security to economic cooperation and climate crisis. It, however, is not clear whether Biden and Modi will have an exclusive meeting with each other.
A BBC report quoted White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki as saying: “We anticipate the meeting discussing a range of the crises we’re facing as a global community — from COVID, to climate, economic cooperation.”
(Edited by : Aditi Gautam)