India Joins Quad Leaders, Committing To Free, Open, Secure And Prosperous Indo-Pacific Region

Quad Leaders from Australia, India, Japan and the US “a group of democratic nations dedicated to delivering results through practical cooperation”  coordinated rapid humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to people in need.

“To strengthen our quest for a region that is open and free, we have agreed to partner to address the challenges presented by new technologies and collaborate to set the norms and standards that govern the innovations of the future,” the leaders of the four-nation Quad said in a statement here on Friday, March 12th. The Quad leaders in the summit on Friday vowed to strive for a “free, open and inclusive” region unconstrained by “coercion”.

In an opinion piece in The Washington Post after holding the first Leaders’ Summit of Quadrilateral alliance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australian PM Scott Morrison and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga asserted that all countries should be able to make their own political choices, free from coercion.

Australia, India, Japan and the US “a group of democratic nations dedicated to delivering results through practical cooperation”  coordinated rapid humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to people in need, they wrote. “Now, in this new age of interconnection and opportunity throughout the Indo-Pacific, we are again summoned to act together in support of a region in need,” they said.

Reaffirming that they are striving to ensure that the Indo-Pacific is accessible, dynamic and governed by international law and bedrock principles such as freedom of navigation and peaceful resolution of disputes, and free from coercion, sending a clear message to China which is flexing its muscles in the region and beyond. They said the governments of India, Japan, US and Australia have worked closely for years, and now for the first time in “Quad” history, they convened as leaders to advance meaningful cooperation at the highest level.

The virtual Quad summit took place as China and India are involved in a military standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh since May last year. China is also engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea. In the East China Sea, Japan has maritime disputes with China.

The leaders of the 4 nations said the cooperation, known as “the Quad,” was born in crisis. It became a diplomatic dialogue in 2007 and was reborn in 2017. “In December 2004, the continental shelf off the coast of Indonesia shifted two meters, creating one of the largest tidal waves in modern history and a nearly unprecedented humanitarian crisis around the Indian Ocean. With millions displaced and hundreds of thousands killed, the Indo-Pacific region sounded a clarion call for help. Together, our four countries answered it,” they wrote.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the quadrilateral grouping of the U.S., India, Japan and Australia has “come of age” as he attended the first Quad leaders’ summit virtually. The grouping is being seen as a united front to counter China’s imperialistic aggression and expansion through trade and military occupation. Modi started his speech by declaring, “It is good to be among friends.” The four countries, he said, “are united by our democratic values and our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.”

The agenda of the summit — covering areas like vaccines, climate change and emerging technologies — makes the Quad a force for global good, he said. Describing Quad as a positive vision, the prime minister said that it is an extension of India’s ancient philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,’which regards the world as one family. “We will work together closer than ever before for advancing our shared values and promoting a secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” Modi said.

Quad, he added, “is an important pillar of stability in the region.” Modi’s statement was welcomed by a lot of India watchers in the U.S. Former U.S. diplomat and Harvard academic Nicholas Burns praised the move, tweeting, “Today’s first-ever Quad leaders meeting – of the US, India, Japan and Australia – is a big deal. Led by the President of the United States Joe Biden, these four can lead on vaccine distribution, strengthen democracies in the region and limit China’s assertiveness.”

There are reports that India will produce Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid vaccine shot as part of the first Quad initiative. The project will be financed by Japan and the U.S., while Australia will use its logistics capability to ship the vaccines to Southeast Asia and Pacific countries.

“Against this backdrop, we are recommitting to a shared vision for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, resilient and inclusive. We are striving to ensure that the Indo-Pacific is accessible and dynamic, governed by international law and bedrock principles such as freedom of navigation and peaceful resolution of disputes, and that all countries are able to make their own political choices, free from coercion,” they wrote.

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