Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and United States President Joe Biden issued a joint statement on the goals and commitments of Quad nations, in a bid to make the region more resilient for the 21st century.
"We strongly support the principles of freedom, rule of law, democratic values, sovereignty and territorial integrity, peaceful settlement of disputes without resorting to threat or use of force, any unilateral attempt to change the status quo, and freedom of navigation and overflight, all of which are essential to the peace, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region and to the world," the leaders underlined in the introduction of the statement.
The Quad Leaders' summit, the second in-person meeting of the leaders, is taking place in Tokyo under the shadow of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The statement focused on cooperation on issues of peace and stability, COVID-19 and global health security, infrastructure, climate action, cybersecurity, space, new technologies, and Quad fellowship.
This is what the statement elucidated:
On Peace and Stability
Citing Russia's excesses in Ukraine, as well as the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, the Quad nations reaffirmed their aspirations to increase multilateral cooperation with regional partners in the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean.
"We reaffirm our unwavering support for ASEAN unity and centrality and for the practical implementation of ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. We welcome the EU’s Joint Communication on the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific which was announced in September 2021 and increased European engagement in the Indo-Pacific region. We will champion adherence to international law, particularly as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the maintenance of freedom of navigation and overflight, to meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the East and South China Seas," they added.
The statement further noted, "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."
COVID-19 and Global Health Security
The four nations also underlined bolstering their global health security measures and strengthening health systems in light of the COVID-19 health crisis.
"We will continue to address both the COVID-19 response and preparedness against future health threats. We will accelerate getting shots in arms through last mile support of which over 2 billion USD has been provided in more than 115 countries globally by our four countries, and will also address vaccine hesitancy through a Quad-convened event this week at the World Health Assembly. We will coordinate our efforts including through the "COVID-19 Prioritized Global Action Plan for Enhanced Engagement (GAP),” and COVAX Vaccine Delivery Partnership," the statement said.
The leaders also announce commitment to "take global leadership to further strengthen and reform the global health architecture for enhancing PPR and promoting UHC in the lead up to the UN High Level Meeting on UHC to be held in 2023."
Quad leaders also announced opening applications for the Quad Fellowship, which will sponsor 100 American, Australian, Indian, and Japanese students to study in the United States each year for graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
On infrastructure assistance and investment, the statement said, "We reaffirmed our shared commitment to deepen cooperation on infrastructure, which is critical to driving productivity and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. We also share a commitment to addressing debt issues, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic in many countries."
To address debt problems, the four nations will operate according to the G20 Common Framework, and promote debt sustainability and transparency in close collaboration with finance authorities of relevant countries, including through the Quad Debt Management Resource Portal.
The leaders launched the 'Quad Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Package (Q-CHAMP)' with 'mitigation' and 'adaptation' as its two themes.
The initiative included resuming efforts on green shipping, energy supply chains, disaster risk reduction, and the exchange of climate information services.
"Its coverage includes new cooperation in clean fuel ammonia, CCUS/Carbon Recycling, cooperation and capacity building support to advance high integrity carbon markets under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, climate-smart agriculture, knowledge sharing on subnational climate actions, and ecosystem-based adaptation," the statement said.
Noting that space-affiliated technologies can aid in addressing collective challenges such as climate change, the Quad leaders noted, "Each Quad partner will endeavor to improve public access to Earth observation satellite data and applications. We will work together to create an Earth observation-based monitoring and sustainable development framework. We will endeavor to share space-based civil Earth observation data, along with providing a "Quad Satellite Data Portal” that aggregates links to our respective national satellite data resources."
"To deliver on the Quad Leaders’ vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, we commit to improving the defense of our nations’ critical infrastructure by sharing threat information, identifying and evaluating potential risks in supply chains for digitally enabled products and services, and aligning baseline software security standards for government procurement, leveraging our collective purchasing power to improve the broader software development ecosystem so that all users can benefit," the statement stressed on cooperating in areas of cybersecurity.
Critical & Emerging Technologies
On the significance of new technologies, the Quad leaders expressed their resolve to focus on harnessing technologies to enhance the prosperity and security of the region.
"In the area of 5G and beyond 5G, while welcoming the Prague Proposals on Telecommunications Supplier Diversity, we will advance interoperability and security through the signature of a new Memorandum of Cooperation on 5G Supplier Diversification and Open RAN," the statement read.
'Discussion Was Constructive, Cooperative & Forward-Leaning': Foreign Secy Vinay Kwatra
Speaking about the discussions between the Quad leaders, Foreign Secretary, Vinay Kwatra said, "The discussion agenda was constructive, cooperative & forward-leaning."
"The leaders discussed challenges and opportunities that are there in the Indo-Pacific but specific actions would perhaps appear in bilateral discussions individually. Quad was focused on forward-leaning partnerships," he added.
Divulging details about discussion between PM Modi and US President Joe Biden, he said, "The focus was on defence manufacturing in India. The question of India-US defence partnership did come up in discussion between PM Modi and President Biden and the focus of the discussion was on defence manufacturing by the American companies in India under the framework of 'Make in India' and 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat'."
On Ukraine, the Quad leaders shared their perspectives on the situation in the war-hit country, while unanimously extending "good appreciation" for the stand taken by India, which has been a path of dialogue and diplomacy to solve the crisis, Kwatra said.
The leaders also spoke about the problems of food, fertiliser, energy, and supply chain issues emerging out of the Ukraine war. PM Modi, he said, emphasised about all the aid that the Government of India has extended to Ukraine.
Besides, the leaders also extensively discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic recovery. Talks were held about how the countries could strengthen health security and related infrastructure in terms of infrastructure. The leaders decided to work together to promote and bridge infrastructural gaps in Indo-Pacific without burdening countries with unsustainable debt."