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International Relations

First in-Person Meeting of Quad Countries

  • 27 Sep 2021
  • 6 min read

Why in News

Recently, the first in-person meeting of Quad leaders was hosted by the US. Issues like climate change, Covid-19 pandemic and challenges in the Indo Pacific, amidst China's growing military presence in the strategic region, were discussed in the meeting.

Key Points

  • Background:
    • In November 2017, India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the Quad to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.
      • China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it.
      • The South China Sea is an arm of the Western Pacific Ocean.
    • In 2020, the trilateral India-US-Japan Malabar naval exercises expanded to include Australia, marking the first official grouping of the Quad since its resurgence in 2017.
      • Further, it is the first joint military exercises among the four countries in over a decade.
    • In March 2021, the Quad leaders met virtually and later released a joint statement titled ‘The Spirit of the Quad,’ which outlined the group’s approach and objectives.
    • Further, just before this meeting, the US has announced a new trilateral security partnership for the Indo-Pacific, between Australia, the UK and the US (AUKUS).
  • Major Highlights of the Quad Summit:
    • Discussed Afghanistan and agreed to deepen their cooperation in South Asia.
    • Quad Vaccine Initiative: Under this, the Quad countries have pledged to donate more than 1.2 billion Coid-19 vaccine doses globally, in addition to the doses financed through Covax.
    • Building Back Better Health Security: Supported the call for a "global pandemic radar” to improve viral genomic surveillance and expand the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS).
    • Quad Infrastructure Coordination Group: The G7 grouping has recently announced the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative.
      • Based on similar lines, the Quad will establish high-quality infrastructure and will share expertise, capacity, and influence in the region and identify new opportunities to meet the needs there.
    • Tackling Climate Change: In this context, Quad countries has envisaged to establish:
      • Green-Shipping Network for deployment of green-port infrastructure.
      • Clean-Hydrogen Partnership to strengthen and reduce costs across all elements of the clean-hydrogen technology, leveraging existing bilateral and multilateral hydrogen initiatives in other fora.
      • Climate Adaptation, Resilience, and Preparedness for increasing the Indo-Pacific region’s resilience to climate change by improving critical climate information-sharing and disaster-resilient infrastructure.
      • Apart from this, Quad countries intend to update or communicate ambitious NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) by COP26.
    • The Quad Fellowship: The Fellowship will sponsor 100 students per year - 25 from each Quad country - to pursue masters and doctoral degrees at leading STEM (Science, Technology Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programmes) graduate universities in the United States.
    • Semiconductor Supply Chain Initiative: It will be a joint initiative to map capacity, identify vulnerabilities, and bolster supply-chain security for semiconductors and their vital components.
      • This initiative will help ensure Quad partners support a diverse and competitive market that produces the secure critical technologies essential for digital economies globally.
    • Critical and Emerging Technologies: The announcement of launch of a 5G deployment and calls for monitoring trends in advanced biotechnologies, including synthetic biology, genome sequencing, and biomanufacturing.
    • Quad Senior Cyber Group: This group will make shared cyber standards; development of secure software; building workforce and talent; and promoting the scalability and cybersecurity of secure and trustworthy digital infrastructure.
    • Satellite Data Sharing: The Quad will begin space cooperation for the first time with a new working group.
      • In pursuance of this, Quad countries will start discussions to exchange Earth observation satellite data and analysis on climate-change risks and the sustainable use of oceans and marine resources.

Way Forward

  • Need For Clear Vision: The Quad nations need to better explain the Indo-Pacific Vision in an overarching framework with the objective of advancing everyone’s economic and security interests.
    • This will reassure the littoral States that the Quad will be a factor for regional benefit, and a far cry from Chinese allegations that it is some sort of a military alliance.
  • Expanding Quad: India has many other partners in the Indo-Pacific, therefore India should pitch for countries like Indonesia, Singapore to be invited to join in the future.

Source: IE

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