The second foreign ministers’ meeting of the Quadrilateral, or ‘Quad’, took place on Tuesday in Tokyo. Foreign ministers of India, the US, Australia, and Japan met for the second time to hold a security dialogue in Tokyo to build a “true security framework” that could counter the challenge posed by an aggressive China.
During his opening remarks on Tuesday, India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said the events of this year had demonstrated the importance of the like-minded countries to coordinate responses to the challenges that the pandemic has brought by.
The ministers had taken the first step to revive the security dialogue last year and upgrade it form secretarial level to the ministerial level on sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September.
In recent times, no other multilateral framework has received such intense global attention.
The Quad was born in 2006 after Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with the vision of an “arc of freedom and prosperity” for the countries bordering the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
The group had been a significant success when they came together for humanitarian purposes in the relief work on the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
The idea was revived again by our former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he pledged the support for a dialogue that would bring India, Japan, and “other like the -minded countries in Asia Pacific” together.
Following this, the senior officials from the Quad countries came together for an exploratory meeting, once again on the sidelines, but this time during the ASEAN Regional Forum in Manila in 2007.
However, days before the first official security consultations could be held, China issued formal diplomatic notes to each country asking for the objectives of the meeting.
The structurally weak group fell apart when the countries realized they could not upset China.
However, after the first Quad meeting in 2019, each country released statements that cleared that they had their reasons for staking claims in the region.
Followed by Trump’s confrontational tone towards China in 2017 and the importance of the Indo-Pacific rather than Asia-Pacific complemented by Modi’s India vision of the Indo-Pacific, the concept fell in place once again.
Now in its second avatar, significantly abetted by China’s combative behaviour, the Quad seems to have grown in purpose, intention, shape, and structure. Now that Chinese motivations are increasingly clear, the Quad has added new dimensions to its agenda, regular assemblies to its schedule, and upgraded the framework even as it remains under intense scrutiny and frequently subjected to criticism that spills over from the failure of its past, writes Firstpost.
Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, backed this formalizing of the informal group to build a true security framework.
This came in when China’s relations with the other three members of the Quad has lapsed in the past year. Not only is China blamed for letting the coronavirus outbreak get out of hands, but its aggressive behaviour in other cases does not help it either.
Speaking to Nikkei Asia in an interview, Pompeo said, “this is the Chinese using coercive power. This isn’t how great nations operate. So our mission is to reduce that.”
“As partners in this Quad, it is more critical now than ever that we collaborate to protect our people and partners from the Chinese Communist Party’s exploitation, corruption, and coercion,” he added
The countries are wary of China’s activities in the South China Sea, direct territorial conflict along India's borders, and a trade war with the US.
“As vibrant and pluralistic democracies with shared values, our nations have collectively affirmed the importance of maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. We remain committed to upholding the rules-based international order, underpinned by the rule of law, transparency, freedom of navigation in the international seas, respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty and peaceful resolution of disputes,” Jaishankar said at the meeting.
Australian Foreign Minister Payne said, “it was vital that states work to ease tensions and avoid exacerbating long-standing disputes, work to counter disinformation, and refrain from malicious cyberspace activity”.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry said the Ministers welcomed “proactive efforts by other countries including those in Europe toward a “free and open Indo-Pacific”.
In the statement issued after Tuesday’s Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the Indian external affairs ministry said that the foreign ministers would continue to hold the consultations regularly.
“The Foreign Ministers exchanged views about regional issues of mutual interest, and issues related to connecting counter-terrorism assistance and disaster relief; maritime safety and security; health security, and counter terrorism. They reaffirmed their collective vision of maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. They reiterated their firm support to ASEAN centrality and highlighted their readiness to work towards realizing a common vision for the Indo-Pacific. Appreciating the value of these consultations, they agreed to hold them regularly,” the statement said.
The four foreign ministers—Australia's Marise Payne, India’s S Jaishankar, Japan’s Toshimitsu Motegi, and America’s Mike Pompeo met with the newly appointed Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
(Edited by : Ajay Vaishnav)