Reacting to the QUAD Leaders’ Summit, China said state-to-state exchanges and cooperation should “help enhance mutual understanding and trust among regional countries, instead of targeting against or undermining the interests of any third party”. “We hope relevant countries will follow the principles of openness, inclusiveness and win-win results, refrain from forming closed and exclusive “cliques” and act in a way that is conducive to regional peace, stability and prosperity,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing. But the QUAD summit’s aim might be completely different altogether — how is the QUAD beneficial for India’s anti-China offensive?
A grouping of India, the USA, Australia and Japan, QUAD aims to safeguard the interests of democratic nations in the Indo-Pacific region and address global challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic and Chinese aggression. Foreign ministers of QUAD member nations met on four different occasions between 2019 and October of last year. Most recently, they met on Friday.
After the meeting three groups were formed, these include one on vaccines, another on critical technology and another on climate.
Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera had said the QUAD grouping should not become an agenda of one particular country being pushed. “The government should share with the country the benefits which India will accrue from Quad. It should not just become an agenda of one particular country being pushed. We need to get maximum advantage out of Quad,” Khera told reporters. The Congress leader sought to know whether the benefits will be fair to each and every member of the QUAD. “We do not have an answer (for it) yet,” he had stated. However, we might have an answer now after the successful meeting.
We are united by our democratic values, and our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.
Our agenda today – covering areas like vaccines, climate change and emerging technologies – makes the Quad a force for global good: PM @narendramodi
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) March 12, 2021
Here are the highlights of the QUAD meeting:
“India is a reliable partner in the global supply chain and received wholesome appreciation from other leaders for providing vaccines to 70 countries under Vaccine Maitri initiative. Our initiative does not and will not compromise on our domestic demands,” the Foreign Secretary said. “It is great to see you,” US President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Narendra Modi. While requesting PM Modi to speak, Biden said, “The QUAD is going to be a vital arena of cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and I look forward to working closely with all of you in the coming years.”
In an apparent reference to China, Biden added, “We know our commitments…Our region is governed by international law, committed to all the universal values and free from coercion but I am optimistic about our prospect.” “The United States is committed to working with you and with all our allies in the region to achieve stability,” US President Joe Biden said while addressing the other countries in the QUAD. Biden, in his first-ever direct interaction with the Indian PM, lauded the importance of QUAD. “This group is particularly important because it is dedicated to the practical solutions and concrete results,” he said.
Referring to QUAD’s plans to enhance India’s vaccine manufacturing capability, the US President added, “We are launching a new ambitious joint partnership that is going to boost vaccine manufacturing for the global benefit, strengthen vaccinations to benefit the entire Indo-Pacific.” “Our agenda today covering areas like vaccines, climate change and emerging technologies makes the QUAD, a force for global good,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi added.
An historic meeting for India, the United States, Japan and Australia – the first ever leaders’ meeting of the Quad.
For us, this meeting is about how we keep Australia and the Indo-Pacific region we live in safe, stable and secure.
🇮🇳 🇺🇸 🇯🇵 🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/Uk40KccJTJ
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) March 12, 2021
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also present at the first-ever QUAD Leaders’ Summit, said, “It is the Indo-Pacific that will now shape the destiny of the world in the 21st Century. As four leaders of great democracies in Indo-Pacific, let our partnership be an enabler of peace, stability and prosperity and do so inclusively with many nations in the region.”
Addressing his American, Japanese and Australian counterparts virtually, the Indian PM added, “QUAD has come of age and will remain an important pillar of stability in the Indo-Pacific region.” He went on to say, “I see this positive vision as an extension of India’s ancient philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ which regards the world as one family. We will work together closely as ever before for advancing shared values and promoting secular, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”
QUAD beneficial for anti-China offensive?
Now coming to how the QUAD is beneficial for India’s anti-China offensive, the basic point that India should keep in mind that if they attacked or challenged on the Himalayas by China, which doesn’t look like an issue being solved anytime soon, India has to take its battle to the oceans where it still enjoys a slightly higher advantage. For that to happen, the QUAD is invaluable.
In a post-COVID world, the QUAD will become the most important grouping for a country like India, both in terms of building alternative supply chains, collaborating on COVID treatments, vaccines, or even helping the nations provide a much-needed jolt to their economy. In the area of military and defence, experts in India have already spoken about the importance of building up the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. So far, Japan is the only member of the QUAD allowed there. India might have to revisit this — if the United States is developing Wake Island near Guam, there might be reciprocal options here in India. Especially if China has to be restricted in their access to Sittwe port in Myanmar and Chittagong in Bangladesh, and, in terms of a wider area, in the Indian Ocean.
According to various experts, India also needs better defensive posts in the Horn of Africa where it can counter China more effectively. In the south-central Indian Ocean, the India-US and India-France relationships will help India maintain good stead. Much greater investment is required in the near future in Sri Lanka and the Maldives and some cooperation with Bangladesh might have a positive result. QUAD is, through its intent, a label, a geostrategic vision and a foreign policy instrument for India to balance China with the use of massive global networking. If and when things go out of control, the QUAD will provide scope for the forging of an alliance amongst the world’s most formidable militaries. Until then, the QUAD is secure in its position as a multilateral platform for dialogue, a partnership between important nations.