Message to China? First ever formal summit of Quad on Friday

By: |
March 10, 2021 9:27 PM

This meeting is being held at the initiative of the US President Joe Biden.

Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’ (Quad)The first formal summit of the heads of state of the four-member group of nations known as the `Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’ (Quad) (India, the US, Japan & Australia) is a significant development. 

The first formal summit of the heads of state of the four-member group of nations known as the `Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’ (Quad) (India, the US, Japan & Australia) is a significant development.  In fact, this meeting is being held at the initiative of the US President Joe Biden.

Confirming the formal summit which is scheduled for March 12, 2021, the Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday evening issued an official statement. According to the statement: “The first Leaders Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework will be held virtually on March 12, 2021.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison, the US President Joe Biden, and Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihide Suga, will be participating.”

What will be the focus?

It will be on a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, maritime security, resilient supply chains, critical technologies as well as climate change.

“Its importance draws from the common geopolitical reality facing these four nations: heightened tensions with China.  Prior to this, the diplomatic engagement of Quad members has been limited to semi-regular meetings and information exchanges,” opines an expert.

Expert View on the Quad meeting

Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Dr Bappaditya Mukherjee, a former faculty at the State University of New York, Geneseo says, “In the US, the transfer of power to the Biden administration has only increased commitment to reviving the Quad.”

“This grouping proposed in 2007 had lapsed into diplomatic limbo.  It gained a new lease of life after China’s heightened expansionist and aggressive behavior in the Indo-Pacific region in recent years.  India has borne the brunt of Chinese assertiveness. Following the Doklam crisis between India and China in 2017, serious India-China hostilities in the border region of Ladakh occurred in 2020.  From India’s perspective, the Quad represents a good option to further fortify its security concerns vis-a-vis China.  The Indian policymakers seem to have abandoned their traditional concerns in dealing with the US as a strategic partner,” he observes.

Unfortunately, “there is still a lack of clarity on the objectives that the Quad is seeking to achieve.  While all members share the goal of containing China, the grouping will have to overcome the same collective action problems that have bedeviled other counterbalancing coalitions throughout history,” Dr Bappaditya Mukherjee says.

According to him, “First of all, the Quad will have to prioritize whether the containment of China will be undertaken through economic coordination over supply chains or through a security alliance.  Thus far, the Quad seems to be veering towards the latter. The most tangible evidence of the Quad activity thus far are the annual Malabar naval exercises of India, US and Japan.”

“Last November, Australia joined these exercises. Once the objectives of the Quad have been clarified, the next problem facing the Quad members will be to apportion their respective resource commitments.  All the Quad members have competing priorities and interests that can conflict with their commitment to the Quad.  For instance, the US has signaled that a deal on climate change regulations will weigh heavily in its bilateral relations with China.  Will the US be able to bracket certain issues while maintaining a deterrent posture vis-a-vis China through the Quad?  The answer to this question will be provided in the future,” the US-based expert concludes.

Quad Summit

In the past, the Quad has met regularly at the working and foreign ministers level. However, the first meeting at the leaders’ level will be on Friday, virtually.

According to the White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, “A range of issues facing the global community will be discussed. These would be from the threat of COVID, to economic cooperation and … the climate crisis.”

“President Biden has made this one of his earliest multilateral engagements speaks to the importance we place on close cooperation with our allies and partners within the Indo-Pacific, a range of issues we expect to be discussed,” Ms Psaki told the media persons in the US.

At a separate briefing in the US, the State Department spokesperson Ned Price has said that “maritime security is, of course, an important one, but our shared interests go well beyond that”.

What is China saying about the Quad summit?

Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, at his annual press conference in Beijing on Sunday has according to reports said, that Beijing and New Delhi should stop “undercutting” each other and shed mutual “suspicion”. And to create “enabling conditions” by expanding bilateral cooperation to resolve the border issue.

Why is China saying this?

Because Beijing views the Quad with suspicion. The members of the Quad have been opposing the Chinese attempts at altering the status quo in the Indo-Pacific region by coercion.

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