The next summit will focus on the pandemic, but the rest is uncertain

What will happen between India, Japan, Australia and the United States at an upcoming summit remains unresolved.

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a diplomatic arrangement between the four countries implemented in 2007, was announced last week and would take place in the United States, hosted by President Joe Biden.

The summit, which is due to take place in person on Friday, will focus on Covid-19, climate change, technology and cyberspace partnerships, and promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific, according to a House statement. White.

While it is certain that Covid-19 will be at the center of discussions, it was natural that this would attract speculation on other issues, namely members’ relations with China, according to Srini Sitaraman, professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Center. for Asia-Pacific. Studies. But “there is nothing sinister about it,” Sitaraman said.

President Joe Biden welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to the White House in April 2021. Office of the President of the United States

The security dialogue was initiated in 2007 by then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It was followed by major military exercises among its members and was seen as a response to the emergence of Chinese power in the region.

But many believe its forerunner was the unified response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami disaster. Since its inception, the Quad has stagnated on several occasions, in part due to Australia’s temporary withdrawal due to intensifying economic relations with China, and restarted in 2017.

The four nations have tenuous relations with China. In addition to growing tensions over Indo-Pacific influence between the United States and China, India has a long and difficult relationship with China due to border disputes in the Himalayan region and concerns over China in the ‘Indian Ocean. Australia is also concerned about China’s apparent historic political interference, while Japan and China continue to have historically risky political relations.

“If you think of the Quad, it’s interesting. They call it the ‘democratic diamond’ or ‘Asian NATO’, ”said Sitaraman, who added that there was definitely only one thing on the agenda. “It’s just a group of four countries getting together and talking about vaccines.”

That said, the summit announcement made China bristle, which inferred that it felt targeted.

“China believes that any regional cooperation framework should follow the trend of the times and be conducive,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Linjian said at a press briefing. “It must not target any third party or harm their interests.”

Other points for discussion would be infrastructure, but the exact function of the dialogue remains somewhat uncertain as there is nothing to prevent countries from having a formal or informal dialogue.

“I don’t know what the end point is for Quad or where they are going with it,” Sitaraman added. “I don’t really know if the countries involved really know that.”

Just a day after the announcement of the four countries meeting in Washington DC, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom created waves when they announced that they would share nuclear submarine technology. to help strengthen their naval presence in the Pacific. This not only meant that Australia was breaking an earlier deal with France, which led it to withdraw its ambassadors from Australia and the United States, but it also left several analysts and commentators in India wondering why it was. was not involved, given her naval prowess.

The United States had assured India that AUKUS would have no effect on Quad, according to The Times of India.

“This initiative aims to ensure that each of us has the most modern capabilities we need to maneuver and defend against rapidly evolving threats,” Biden said last week, without naming China.

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