Addressing the summit, PM Narendra Modi said Quad’s “constructive agenda’’ will strengthen its image as a force for good and that their mutual trust and determination was giving new energy and enthusiasm to the democratic forces.
In remarks aimed at China, the Quad said in a joint statement it will champion adherence to international law, and maintenance of freedom of navigation and overflight, to meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the East and South China Seas. “We strongly oppose any coercive, provocative or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo and increase tensions in the area, such as the militarization of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities,’’ it said, in a language more strident than that used in the past.
According to Japan, Chinese and Russian bombers flew over the Sea of Japan as the summit took place. While the “tragic humanitarian crisis’’ in Ukraine, and its likely implications for the Indo-Pacific, was discussed in the meeting, India’s differences with other Quad members on the issue meant that there was no condemnation, or even a mention, of Russia in the joint statement. The statement only underscored “unequivocally’’ that the centrepiece of the international order is international law, including the UN Charter, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states. Both President Biden and Japanese PM Fumio Kishida condemned Russia’s actions with the former calling it a dark hour in “our shared history’’ and the latter saying it was important for Quad to speak in one voice and display firm commitment toward the shared vision of free and open Indo-Pacific.
Importantly for India, Quad leaders denounced the use of terrorist proxies and emphasised the importance of denying any logistical, financial or military support to terrorist groups which could be used to launch or plan terror attacks, including “cross-border attacks’’. “We reiterate our condemnation of terrorist attacks, including 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot attacks. We reaffirm that in our fight against global terrorism, we will take concerted action against all terrorist groups, including those individuals and entities designated pursuant to the UNSC Resolution 1267(1999),’’ said the statement. Terror groups like Pakistan based LeT and JeM are proscribed under the same resolution.
In an important announcement meant to ensure “tangible benefits’’ for the region, the Quad said it will seek to extend more than $ 50 billion of infrastructure assistance and investment in the Indo-Pacific, over the next five years. Foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said it will be used for demand-driven infrastructure and not lead to any “unsustainable bouquet of projects’’.
“ We will work to strengthen capacities of the countries in need to cope with debt issues under the G20 Common Framework and by promoting debt sustainability and transparency in close collaboration with finance authorities of relevant countries, including through the “Quad Debt Management Resource Portal,” which consists of multiple bilateral and multilateral capacity building assistance,’’ said Quad leaders, as China’s BRI faces international scrutiny for irresponsible lending.
The group said it welcomed the progress on the expansion of J&J vaccine production at the Biological E facility in India under the Quad Vaccine Partnership and called for the grant of WHO’s EUL approvals for the same. The vaccine initiative has been delayed in the absence of the necessary approvals.