Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be part of the first-ever in-person Quad summit hosted by US President Joe Biden on September 24. Other invitees include Modi’s Australian counterpart Scott Morrison and Japanese premier Yoshihide Suga.
During last summit of the “Quad” group of nations, which was held virtually in March, the entire world was grappling under the Coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 vaccines, China’s aggression were some of the pressing issues for the four countries during that time.
However, this year, though the issues remain similar, it will be the the first-ever in-person meeting. The White House said that the four leaders would discuss deepening their ties and advancing practical cooperation on areas like combatting Covid-19 and promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific. The four countries will likely exchange views on contemporary global issues such as critical and emerging technologies, connectivity and infrastructure, cyber security, maritime security, etc.
Here are some significant issues from the last Quad Summit and what to expect from this summit:
The last Quad summit took place as the China and India are involved in a military standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh since May last year. After lengthy rounds of talks, the two sides simultaneously withdrew troops from the Pangong Lake area last month while talks are on for the withdrawal of soldiers from the rest of the friction points along the LAC.
“This is our effort to communicate clearly to the Chinese government how the United States intends to proceed at a strategic level, what we believe our fundamental interests and values are, and what our concerns with their activities are whether it’s on Hong Kong, or Xinjiang, or in the Taiwan Strait or, frankly, the issues that we heard today from our Quad partners: their coercion of Australia, their harassment around the Senkaku Islands, their aggression on the border with India,” US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had said.
In a joint statement, the Quad leaders pledged to strengthen cooperation on the “defining challenges of our time. We bring diverse perspectives and are united in a shared vision for the free and open Indo-Pacific. We strive for a region that is free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion, said the joint statement titled The Spirit of the Quad.”
What PM Modi said?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the first ever leadership summit of the grouping said that members of the Quadrilateral Framework or ‘Quad’ will become “closer than ever before”.
Describing Quad as an important pillar of stability in the region, PM said, “We are united by our democratic values and our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. Our agenda, covering areas like vaccines, climate change, and emerging technologies make the Quad a force for global good. We will work together, closer than ever before on advancing our shared values and promoting a secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”
“We will work together, closer than ever before, for advancing our shared values and promoting a secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific. Today’s summit meeting shows that Quad has come of age. It will now remain an important pillar of stability in the region,” he had added.
The last summit had come at a time when the countries across the world were grappling under Covid-19 and the inoculation had just started across countries including India. The member nations agreed to ensure “equitable” access to vaccines to counter the pandemic.
PM Modi, US President Joe Biden, Japanese Premier Yoshihide Suga and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison highlighted cooperation among the member countries to beat the global Covid-19 pandemic, with joint partnership on vaccines, and emphasised the need for an “open” and “free” Indo-Pacific region, a report in The Hindu said.
A joint statement of the four countries also said, “We will join forces to expand safe, affordable, and effective vaccine production and equitable access to speed economic recovery and benefit global health.”
What to Expect This year?
This time, the Quad Leaders will be focused on deepening their ties and advancing practical cooperation on areas such as combatting COVID-19, addressing the climate crisis, partnering on emerging technologies and cyberspace and promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The Quad summit will take place amidst China’s aggressive behaviour in the resource-rich South China Sea. Beijing claims almost all of the 1.3 million square mile South China Sea as its sovereign territory. China has been building military bases on artificial islands in the region also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.