Leaders of four countries — India, Japan, US and Australia — gathered on Friday for the first online summit of the Quad group of nations, which is seen as part of efforts to balance China’s growing military and economic power.
While the interaction between US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra at a public event for the first time since taking office garnered global interest, the meeting itself was a big success. Here are the key takeaways from the meeting:
Making Covid Vaccines for Indo-Pacific Region
From being ‘sympathetic’ towards Delhi over LAC friction with China to plans of launching mega Covid-19 vaccine initiative in India, the country stood out in the first Quad summit. The country will produce jabs for the Indo-Pacific region with financial assistance from the US and Japan while Australia will contribute in logistical aspects. The Quad leaders also delved into the evolving situation in the Indo-Pacific and vowed to work unitedly for ensuring peace and stability in the region.
“A free and open Indo-Pacific is essential to each of our futures,” Biden said in the meeting. Modi said the Quad has come of age and its agenda covering areas like vaccines, climate change and emerging technologies makes it a force for global good.
Support from the US, Japan and Australia
Briefing reporters on the summit, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said it was decided that India’s manufacturing capacity is something that is going to be leveraged to make US vaccines. He said the financing for creation of additional capacities will come from the US and Japan while Australia will contribute to the last mile logistics and delivery issues. Australia will finance countries which are going to receive the vaccines.
‘A Billion Doses by End of 2022’
Shringla said the summit saw Quad leaders adopting a positive agenda focusing on contemporary issues such as vaccines, climate change and emerging technologies.
“In today’s context, it is one of the most important initiatives. We are talking about huge investments in creating additional vaccine capacities in India for exports to countries in the Indo-Pacific region for their betterment. We are talking about producing a billion doses of vaccines by the end of 2022,” he said.
The vaccine initiative, he said, is a special one which is designed pro-actively to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 among countries in the Indo-Pacific. “India welcomes Quad vaccine initiatives as it recognises our own manufacturing capacities and capabilities,” he said.
Shringla said Friday’s virtual summit has set a benchmark for Quad’s future efforts in the interests of Indo-Pacific region.
The China Issue
While Shringla said that there were discussions on regional issues but “cannot reveal the details” as they were “confidential”, sources told News18 that all countries had a “sympathetic view towards India” over the LAC friction with China.
The Quad leaders, including US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Friday vowed to strive for a “free, open and inclusive” region unconstrained by “coercion, in an apparent reference to China which is flexing its military muscles in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. In a joint statement issued after the first Leaders’ Summit of Quadrilateral alliance attended by President Biden, Prime Minister Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the leaders pledged to strengthen cooperation on the “defining challenges of our time.
Post-pandemic Recovery, Maritime Security, Climate Change
The leaders also discussed regional and global issues of shared interest, and exchanged views on practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
The Summit provided an opportunity to exchange views on contemporary issues such as post-pandemic recovery, resilient supply chains, emerging and critical technologies, maritime security, and climate change.
The ‘Qaud’ was set up by Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe August 2007 and then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh was part of the initial set up. However, in 2008, Singh said India was not part of any efforts against China and Australia had also left the group. It was revived in 2017 during the ASEAN Summit to counter China’s assertiveness in the region. Friday’s meet was the first since the 2017 revival.