Rules-Based Order & An “Open And Free” Region.
The fourth Quad Summit was attended by leaders of the US, Japan, India and Australia in Tokyo, Japan. It is their second in-person summit, after the last one in Washington in September 2021 (they had met once in a virtual summit in March 2021). Decisions taken at the summit are being considered crucial, as they will have far reaching regional and global consequences. Besides the war in Ukraine, two other developments make this Summit special: first, the formation of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) with 13 initial members; and second, the first-time presence and participation of Australia’s newly appointed Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
The Quad, officially the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD), is not a formal alliance. It is an informal strategic forum comprising four maritime democracies—India, Japan, Australia and the United States. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue aims to address maritime security, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic among other issues. The Quad is also seen as an attempt to counter China's growing influence and expansionist ambitions. The Quad is a loose grouping rather than a formal alliance. It does not have a decision-making body or a secretariat, or a formal structure like NATO or the United Nations. The alliance is maintained through summits, meetings, information exchanges and military drills.
Quad’s origins can be traced to the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 when India, along with Japan, the US and Australia, conducted relief and rescue operations in the region. Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proposed a group of “like-minded countries in the Asia-Pacific region on themes of mutual interest”. In May 2007, the first informal meeting between the four countries took place. In 2007 after Abe's resignation and the beginning of Kevin Rudd's Prime Ministerial term, Australia withdrew from the alliance and the grouping broke apart gradually. In 2017, Japan officially proposed a revival of the Quad. The first working-level meeting under the Quad took place in Manila. In the year Australia joined the trilateral India-US-Japan Malabar naval exercise after more than a decade. In the month of March in 2021, the Quad leaders met virtually for the first time. In September 2021 the first in-person meeting of Quad leaders was held. A similar summit of Quad leaders is being hosted by Japan.
The leaders issued a statement promising a “free and open Indo-Pacific that is inclusive and resilient,” signalling an intent to act on an array of pressing global challenges. That includes big issues like climate change and cyber security as well as specific domains such as cooperation on infrastructure
The Quad now seems more cohesive as a group, and ready to act on initiatives agreed upon previously—committing $50 bn for infrastructure building in the region, creating a new partnership for maritime domain awareness with regional states to combat illegal fishing and respond to humanitarian disasters, recommitting to a Covid 19 vaccination project, and making some forward movement towards tackling the disruption in the global supply chain for semiconductors, with the release at the summit of the Common Statement of Principles on Critical Technology Supply Chains. Even if China has not been mentioned, clearly all these initiatives are intended to act as a check and balance against the regional superpower, and build resilience in areas such as critical technologies, where it can prove to be a disruptor.