US Joins Australia, India and Japan for First-Ever Quad Summit | Asia-Pacific News

The “Quad” meeting comes as the United States has insisted on working with its allies in the Indo-Pacific to counter Beijing’s growing power.

US President Joe Biden to hold first-ever joint talks with leaders of Australia, India and Japan in an emerging quadripartite alliance seen as fundamental to efforts to balance growing military and economic might from China.

Friday, the virtual meeting of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, also known as the “Quad,” will be one of Biden’s first summits since taking office and comes as his administration has sought to counter China’s military and trade expansion by strengthening alliances.

The Quad was launched in 2007 by then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was alarmed by China’s growing assertiveness in Asia.

“The fact that President Biden made this one of his first multilateral engagements is a testament to the importance we place on close cooperation with our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific,” the press secretary said on Tuesday. from the White House, Jen Psaki.

A range of topics facing the global community should be debated “from the threat of COVID to economic cooperation and, of course, the climate crisis,” she said.

Meanwhile, a senior administration official told Reuters news agency the meeting was supposed to send “a very strong signal of common cause and purpose. And the objective here is essentially to present the Quad as a new feature of regular diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific.

This message was echoed by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who called the upcoming meeting a “historic moment” and said it “sends a strong message to the region about our support for a sovereign and independent Indo-Pacific” .

Japan, for its part, said Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga held talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday and expressed concern over “China’s unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the China Sea. eastern and southern ”as well as the status of rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

India’s foreign ministry said the four leaders “will exchange views on practical areas of cooperation to keep an Indo-Pacific region free, open and inclusive.”

The meeting is also expected to include the announcement of funding deals to support an increase in India’s coronavirus vaccine manufacturing capacity, which New Delhi urged to counter China’s expanding vaccine distribution in the region as part of its so-called “vaccine diplomacy.” A senior US administration official told Reuters.

China’s growing influence

The summit follows talks on February 18 between Quad foreign ministers when they jointly called for the restoration of democracy in Myanmar after the military overthrew democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.

US officials have touted the meeting as a key way to put pressure on Yangon, as India and Japan have a closer relationship with the Myanmar military, which has traditionally relied on China as its main source of support. .

The Quad’s foreign ministers, however, were careful not to explicitly mention China, which has expressed concern over what it sees as an effort to gang up against its interests in Asia.

After Biden’s election, Chinese state media had published articles calling on India to end the Quad, seeing New Delhi as the most likely to oppose the forum.

But views have hardened in India after a pitched battle in the Himalayas last year killed at least 20 Indian soldiers.

Australia has also shown a growing willingness to participate in Quad as relations deteriorate with Beijing, with Canberra last year. join naval exercises with the other three nations off the coast of India.

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