Statement by the United States, India, Japan and Australia on the Indo-Pacific

US President Joe Biden hosts a Quad Leaders Summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide in the East Room of the White House on September 24, 2021 in Washington, DC.

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Without mentioning China, the leaders of four major democracies – the United States, India, Japan and Australia – have reiterated their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region that “does not let itself go. impress by coercion ”.

US President Joe Biden hosted the Quad Leaders Summit on Friday, where the prime ministers of India, Japan and Australia gathered in Washington, DC, for their first in-person meeting.

“Together, we recommit ourselves to promoting a free, open and rules-based order, anchored in international law and fearless through coercion, to enhance security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.” , Biden, along with Indian Narendra Modi, Japanese Yoshihide Suga and Australian Scott Morrison, said in a joint statement.

The statement did not mention China or its growing influence in the region, as the country increasingly asserts itself in the hotly contested South China and East China Seas, and regularly patrols the waters there.

“We defend the rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflight, the peaceful settlement of disputes, democratic values ​​and the territorial integrity of States,” they added.

The four countries have an alliance called the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, which positions itself as being committed to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.

‘Doomed to fail’

In some circles, the Quad is seen as an anti-China alliance in part because of Beijing’s increasingly aggressive measures in the East China Sea and South China Sea in recent years.

Quad members participated in joint naval exercises and intensified defense partnerships between them.

However, the group has avoided explicitly mentioning China in its public statements, instead focusing on common issues such as Covid-19 and global health, infrastructure and climate change.

More here: Read the full report on CNBC’s Quad Project, including data visualizations, maps and a timeline

However, Beijing’s presence remains an overhang.

China’s presence is palpable in all the initiatives that Quad member states want to pursue, including vaccine diplomacy, infrastructure, technology cooperation and maritime security, said Harsh Pant, head of the strategic studies program at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.

“The idea is that these countries offer an alternative to what the Chinese are trying to provide through their own model,” Pant told CNBC on Monday. For many small Indo-Pacific states, the current choice is between suing China or nothing, he explained.

Beijing has an ambitious Belt and Road Initiative designed to expand China’s global influence by building rail and sea trade routes connecting the country to Central Asia, Europe and Africa.

For its part, China believes the Quad alliance is “doomed”.

“A closed and exclusive clique targeting other countries goes against the trend of the time and the aspirations of countries in the region,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at the meeting. a press briefing on Friday before the Quad leaders’ meeting.

“He will not find any support and is doomed to failure,” he added.

New and existing initiatives

The Quad announced a number of new initiatives on Friday and pledged to honor existing commitments.

They understand:

Vaccines against covid-19
The United States, India, Japan and Australia have pledged to donate more than 1.2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine globally – this is in addition to the injections the four countries have given already funded through the International Vaccine Access Mechanism for Low Income Countries, known as Covax. India, one of the world’s largest vaccine producers, has said it will resume exporting vaccines from next month.

Quad infrastructure coordination group
The leaders announced a group that will coordinate efforts to build high-quality infrastructure and provide technical assistance to regional partners to meet the infrastructure needs of the Indo-Pacific region.

Fight against climate change
The fight against climate change was one of the main topics of discussion of the Quad. The group announced several measures, including the formation of an ecological transport network where the main ports of each country would be invited to work together to reduce carbon emissions from the maritime transport value chain.

Critical and emerging technologies
Regarding critical and emerging technologies such as 5G, the Quad has announced plans to implement a semiconductor supply chain initiative to map and identify vulnerabilities and secure access to semiconductors. and their vital components.

The four countries plan to cooperate on space technology by creating a new working group that will discuss ways to exchange Earth observation satellite data and climate change risk analysis.

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