Recently, second in-person leaders’ meeting of the Quad took place in Japan. Quad which was a strategic and theoretical grouping to ensure Free and Open Indo-Pacific has undergone transformation by focusing on more specific areas like – Covid, technology, climate change and infrastructure, space and cybersecurity. In this context let us try and understand various aspects of the Quad in detail.
Relevance of the recent Meeting
- Overlooked differences: Joint statement did not mention the Russia Ukraine war despite the difference in stance of the member countries.
- Reassurance of US to Eastern Partners: Participation of US President highlights that despite US’s focus on War in Europe, it is not losing focus on Asia and the Indo-Pacific.
- Indirectly calling out Chinese overtures: Although China’s name did not appear in the Joint statement, the member countries in an indirect reference resolved to oppose coercive and unilateral measures that “seek to change the status quo and increase tensions in the area, dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities.”
- Indo – Pacific Economic Framework: Highlights the economic strategy of the US towards the Indo-Pacific. Strategically, it is significant because 7 of 10 ASEAN countries and 11 out of 15 of the countries that form Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) took part in the launch.
Broad Areas of Agreement
- Strategic: Strategically, it is seen as a non-defence non-military arrangement. US has created a parallel AUKUS as a military partnership involving UK and Australia. Further the MALABAR exercises have the same membership as Quad, but it does not take place under the Quad.
- Agreed upon an Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA) which will collate satellite imagery from Centers in India, Singapore, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands to offer near-real-time, integrated, and cost-effective maritime mapping- and track dark shipping, piracy and provide disaster relief in Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and Pacific Ocean.
- Agreed to form a Quad Cybersecurity Partnership and to coordinate more closely on Space observation programs and share information gathered.
- Infrastructure: Quad countries announced they will seek to extend more than $50 billion of infrastructure assistance and investment in the Indo-Pacific, over the next five years.
- COVID and Health: Agreed to continue to donate vaccines, where about a fifth of what had been promised, 265 million of 1.2 billion, vaccines doses have been distributed thus far.
- Critical Technologies
- MoU on 5G Supplier Diversification.
- Common Statement of Principles on Critical Technology Supply Chains for semiconductor supplies
- Cooperation on Open RAN (Radio Access Networks)
Limitation of Quad
- Infrastructure funding to the tune of $50 billion over a period of five years, is very less compared to $54 bn funded by US to Ukraine in past three months.
- IPEF is being touted as a challenge to the CPTPP and RCEP is not in the nature of trade deal but just a framework, whose finer details are yet to be finalized.
- No Quad level military to military arrangements yet the rhetoric is increasingly one of countering China in South China Sea.
- Most Ocean data sharing, Space and Cyberwarfare cooperation are coordination arrangements- and do not actually fund or build new initiatives yet.
- US funding of a facility that has not yet produced any vaccines for Quad, and Johnson and Johnson, that has been named in Quad joint statement has not received an indemnity waiver in India, and its US authorisation has been limited.
- India has difference with other members on the issue of Russian aggression.
- On the issue of China, all members have stayed away from directly naming China in the Joint statement.
- On Taiwan, while all other Quad members appealed for Taiwan to be included as an observer at World Health Assembly, India did not.
- Parallel arrangements like AUKUS and ‘Partners in the Blue Pacific’ (US and its allies — Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United Kingdom) will have impact on Quad’s primacy in the Indo-Pacific.