The Quad is “a force for global good” says Modi

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From left, PM Yoshihide Suga of Japan, PM Narendra Modi, President Biden, and Australian PM Scott Morrison pose for a photo before the Quad meeting Sept. 24, 2021. Photo Twitter PMOIndia

In a bid to introduce some muscle behind years of efforts to stall China’s rise in the Indo-Pacific region, the first in-person summit of four leaders took place in Washington, D.C. Sept. 24, 2021, between President Joe Biden and Prime Ministers Narendra Modi of India, Yoshihide Suga of Japan and Scott Morrison of Australia.

However, the focus was more on humanitarian causes and global trade issues and efforts were made to emphasize its non-military underpinnings and play down any influence China may have had in the formation of this group.

Prime Minister Modi, in his speech called it a ‘historic meeting: promising that The Quad was going to be a “force for global good,” and will work for peace and stability.

He recalled the four countries came together the first time after the major Tsunami destroyed so many coastlines in the Indo-Pacific, and now it is coming together as Covid is threatening the world, and “we have come together for humanitarian reasons.”

The four countries have common democratic values, Modi said, and have decided to take a positive approach on issues ranging from supply chain to Covid-19.

‘The Quad’ as it is referred to, was scheduled to touch upon a variety of subjects like 5G technology, climate change, critical infrastructure, supply chains and regional security. Afghanistan as well as North Korea’s ballistic missile launches were also expected to be important subjects of discussion.

Senior Biden officials over the days leading up to the Quad summit, have been trying hard to word the message from the The Quad saying it “stands for something and not against something; it is not targeting any one country.”

The officials have also emphasized that The Quad does not have a military or security dimension to it. But its history says otherwise.

Initiated in 2007 by then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or The Quad aimed to achieve the goal of peace and security in the region.

However, The same year, the Quad nations, joined by Singapore took part in naval exercises, but then broke up when Australia withdrew from formal discussions in 2008.

President Donald Trump revived The Quad in 2017. The group held its first foreign ministerial meeting in New York on September 26, 2019.

President Biden has now elevated the partnership from a ministerial level engagement to a summit, with a virtual meeting taking place March 12, 2021, where the four leaders discussed COVID-19, climate change, and security challenges like North Korea. After the first meeting, the Quad announced the launch of three senior-level working groups: the Quad Vaccine Experts Group, the Quad Climate Working Group and the Quad Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group.

According to officials, the Sept. 24 meeting of the The Quad would result in new initiatives on space; sharing information on illegal fishing and on issues associated with maritime domain awareness;  taking steps to help monitor climate change and promote a variety of issues associated with estuaries and fisheries; a “robust” cybersecurity effort which is already underway with the State Department but which will be enhanced to the leader level; taking steps to bolster critical infrastructure resilience against cyber threats;  and advancing a very high-level group on specific capabilities and technologies.

Other critical issues like vaccine deliverables and health cooperation, green shipping, and infrastructure are also part of The Quad’s cooperation agenda.

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