The Quartet sends a tough message to China

The Quartet sends a tough message to China 2

US President Joe Biden and the leaders of three Asia-Pacific countries in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), including Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison,

The joint statement after the conference did not directly mention China, but affirmed that the Quad `unified on a common vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region`.

Screen of the Quad group’s online meeting in Tokyo on March 12.

The group of four countries agreed to support the rule of law, resolve disputes peacefully, respect territorial integrity, and prioritize the role of international law in the maritime field, especially reflected in the United Nations Convention.

The Quartet also committed to establishing a group in charge of new technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence, cooperation to combat climate change, deal with Covid-19, denuclearize North Korea and restore democracy in North Korea.

Toshi Yoshihara, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, said that although the joint statement did not directly mention China, the message to Beijing `appears everywhere in the document.`

Yoshihara commented that the Quartet’s message seemed to refer only to what they supported rather than opposed, but behind the polite language was a clear strategy.

`The balance of maritime power in the Indo-Pacific is multilateral. If you add the maritime capabilities of Australia, India, Japan and the US, the force correlation will change quite a lot compared to China.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at the press conference after the summit also confirmed that the four leaders discussed `the act of suppressing Australia, harassment around the Senkaku/Diaoyu island group, and aggression at the border.`

`Leaders discussed the challenge that China creates and they affirmed that no one has any illusions about China, but this conference is basically not focused on Beijing,` Sullivan said, adding that the focus of

On the Covid-19 front, where Beijing is seeking to attract support from international public opinion through `vaccine diplomacy`, the group of four countries also announced the establishment of the `Quad Vaccine Partnership`, to promote

`The Quad leaders are taking the necessary joint action to promote the production of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines in 2021, and at the same time cooperate to strengthen and support the vaccination campaign of regional countries.`

The four-country summit took place a few days after Biden released a preliminary document on national security policy, emphasizing the need for Washington to strengthen its alliance with like-minded countries and view China as a `rival`.

`Diplomacy is back. The alliance is back,` Biden affirmed in the document.

Rorry Daniels, Asia-Pacific security analyst at the National Committee on Foreign Policy, said the Quad’s joint statement would reassure China’s neighbors, but added that its success

`Only Beijing can change Beijing’s behavior,` Daniels said, adding that China will also benefit greatly from the region’s post-Covid-19 economic recovery and development.

Each member of the Quad is having to deal with escalating tensions with China.

Chinese coast guard vessels have recently appeared often in disputed waters with Japan near the Senkaku/Diaoyu island group in the East China Sea.

China also restricted imports of some Australian products, such as wine, barley and coal in November, as relations between the two countries deteriorated because Canberra called for an international investigation into the origin of Covid-19.

A border clash in June that left at least 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese soldiers dead has strained relations between the two countries for months.

Biden is also looking to build coalitions to counter many of China’s actions, from changing Hong Kong’s electoral system to block candidates considered not patriotic enough, to Beijing’s sovereignty claims.

However, the Biden administration has not cut off all contact with Beijing.

`I don’t expect the phase one trade deal to be a big topic in next week’s discussion,` Sullivan said.

The Quartet sends a tough message to China

US destroyer officer John S. McCain observed a ship in the East Sea on February 5.

Sullivan added that the Quad is not just a military alliance but also `an opportunity for four democracies to cooperate and work with other countries on fundamental issues including economics, technology, climate and security.`

However, the Biden administration also continues to build military relationships with other allies in the region.

`China will be the dominant issue, but I don’t think it will dominate the discussions in Tokyo and Seoul. There are many other important issues in our partnership with South Korea and Japan.`

Kim added that the visit plan also includes cooperation on fighting Covid-19, climate change, coordination on North Korea policy, and efforts to promote human rights and the rule of law.

Observers say that the summit meeting and recent US moves show that Biden is gradually fulfilling his commitment to bring the US back and strongly `pivot` to the Indo-Pacific region, to prevent

`The summit meeting and subsequent moves are a declaration that the Quad is always here,` said Tanvi Madan, an expert at the Brookings Institution.

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