The Quad on Tuesday unveiled initiatives to address Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific region and also nullify its efforts to build ‘security perches’ in the Pacific Islands by announcing the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA).
The IPMDA, according to a White House press release, will offer a ‘near-real-time, integrated, and cost-effective maritime domain awareness picture’ and help Quad members’ allies as well to fully monitor their shores.
At the #TokyoSummit, the #Quad leaders will welcome a major maritime initiative: the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA), which will allow tracking of “dark shipping”: The White House pic.twitter.com/bST8cKQiCL
— News18.com (@news18dotcom) May 24, 2022
“The benefits of this picture are vast: it will allow tracking of “dark shipping” and other tactical-level activities, such as rendezvous at sea, as well as improve partners’ ability to respond to climate and humanitarian events and to protect their fisheries,” the statement said.
The announcement comes at a time when the Quad member states like Japan and Australia – in the case of Japan (and South Korea – another US ally in the region), it faces a dual security threat from North Korea as well – are facing security threat from China.
The IPMDA will boost information-sharing across existing regional fusion centers which includes the Information Fusion Center-Indian Ocean Region in India and the Information Fusion Center, based in Singapore.
There are also two regional fusion centers in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency and Pacific Fusion Center respectively, and it is noteworthy that these two fusion centers have been brought under the ambit of the IPMDA at a time when Solomon Islands has signed a security deal with China and Vanuatu is in talks to sign critical security and infrastructure-related deals.
The move to use those fusion centers could be aimed at assuring the Pacific island-nations that the US and Australia prioritizes them more than Beijing.
China since the beginning of the year has attempted to flout peace near Australia’s shores on two separate occasions and the IPMDA is expected to bring emerging technologies which can help the Quad member and others to keep an eye on China’s movements.
The deal with Solomon Islands and a similar deal being discussed with Kiribati earlier raised concerns for both Australia and the US as it would undermine their presence in their own backyard.
The press release did not explicitly name China but said that the IPMDA will ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.
“This initiative will transform the ability of partners in the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region to fully monitor the waters on their shores and, in turn, to uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the release said. It specified that it will cover these specific regions – the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region.
The move will also address the Chinese menace of illegal fishing in the Indo-Pacific. Coastal and fishing communities in Indonesia and Philippines earlier raised concerns regarding China’s illegal fishing and how it destroys livelihoods and the IPMDA could be able to address this issue.