In a clear message to an aggressive China, the leaders of the Quad grouping on Tuesday voiced their firm opposition to “any provocative or unilateral attempt” to change the status quo and called for peaceful settlement of disputes without resorting to threat or use of force.
During the second in-person meeting of the Quad leaders here, Prime Minister Modi, President Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Australia’s newly-elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese exchanged views about developments in the Indo-Pacific region and global issues of mutual interest. “We strongly oppose any coercive, provocative or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo and increase tensions in the area, such as the militarisation of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities,” said a joint statement issued after the meeting.
Later, briefing journalists on PM Modi’s meetings, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said that discussions during the Quad Summit were based on constructive and forwardly cooperative agenda between the Quad countries as well as between the Quad and other countries of the Indo-Pacific.
“Naturally, during various agenda items of the Quad, the discussions did focus on what could be the way forward for cooperation among the Quad countries,” he said.“The leaders also discussed the challenges and the opportunities in the Indo-Pacific region,” Kwatra said when asked whether the four leaders discussed China’s increasingly intimidatory behaviour in the region.
He said the four leaders also looked at different economic priorities… those relating to the Covid-19 pandemic, the post-Covid recovery, building of health preparedness in terms of health infrastructure so that such pandemic can be fought.
In the joint statement, the four leaders said the Quad will champion adherence to international law, particularly as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the maintenance of freedom of navigation and overflight, to meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the East and South China Seas.
“We strongly support the principles of freedom, rule of law, democratic values, sovereignty and territorial integrity, peaceful settlement of disputes without resorting to threat or use of force, any unilateral attempt to change the status quo, and freedom of navigation and overflight, all of which are essential to the peace, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region and to the world,” it said.
They reaffirmed the grouping’s resolve to uphold the international rules-based order where countries are free from all forms of military, economic and political coercion.
The Quad leaders also discussed their respective responses to the conflict in Ukraine and the ongoing tragic humanitarian crisis, and assessed its implications for the Indo-Pacific.
“We underscored unequivocally that the centerpiece of the international order is international law, including the UN Charter, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states. We also emphasised that all countries must seek peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law,” the joint statement said.
It said Quad is committed to cooperation with partners in the region who share the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
They agreed to deepen cooperation in multilateral institutions, including at the United Nations and said individually and together, they will respond to the challenges of the time, ensuring that the region remains inclusive, open, and governed by universal rules and norms.
The Quad leaders condemned North Korea’s “destabilising” ballistic missile development and launches in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions and reaffirmed their commitment to the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
On Myanmar, they voiced concern over the crisis and called for the immediate end to violence in the country, release of all political detainees, including foreigners, and the swift restoration of democracy.
The grouping also condemned unequivocally terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations and reiterated that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever.
“We denounce the use of terrorist proxies and emphasise the importance of denying any logistical, financial or military support to terrorist groups which could be used to launch or plan terror attacks, including cross-border attacks,” the statement said.
“We reiterate our condemnation of terrorist attacks, including 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot attacks. We also reaffirm UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021), which demands that Afghan territory must never again be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists, or to plan or finance terrorist attacks,” it said.
Committed to make US-India partnership among closest on earth: Biden tells Modi
US President Joe Biden on Tuesday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he is committed to making America’s partnership with India among the closest on earth, saying there is so much that the two countries can and will do together. The two leaders are in Japan for the second Quad leaders’ in-person summit. President Biden, during a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi after the Quad summit, praised India’s Covid vaccination efforts. Biden said he was pleased that the two countries have reached an agreement for the US Development Finance Corporation to continue this important work in India, supporting vaccine production, clean energy initiatives. “I am glad that we are renewing the Indo-US Vaccine Action Programme,” he said. “There is so much that our countries can and will do together. I am committed to make the US-India partnership among the closest we have on earth,” Biden said. On the issue of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Biden said that the two leaders also discussed the ongoing effects of Russia’s brutal and non-justified invasion of Ukraine and the effect it has on the entire global world order.
“The US-India is going to continue consulting closely on how to mitigate these negative effects,” Biden said.
The US, along with its allies including Japan, has been one of the world’s most outspoken critics of the Russian invasion in Ukraine. Earlier, Prime Minister Modi, US President Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Australia’s newly-elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese attended the second in-person meeting of Quad leaders here during which they exchanged views about developments in the Indo-Pacific region and global issues of mutual interest.
The Quad summit is taking place under the shadow of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It is also taking place at a time when the relations between China and the Quad member countries have become tense, with Beijing increasingly challenging democratic values and resorting to coercive trade practices.
India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China’s rising military manoeuvring in the region.
China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea.
On the eve of the summit, Biden on Monday launched the ambitious Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), which is an initiative aimed at deeper cooperation among like-minded countries in areas such as clean energy, supply-chain resilience and digital trade.
The rollout of the IPEF is expected to send across a signal that the US is focused on pushing forward a strong economic policy for the region to counter China’s aggressive strategy on trade in the region.
In March last year, President Biden hosted the first-ever summit of the Quad leaders in the virtual format that was followed by an in-person summit in Washington in September. The Quad leaders also held a virtual meeting in March.
Australia will host the next Quad summit in 2023.
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, amidst China’s growing military presence in the strategic region.