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Declaration by the US, India, Japan and Australia on the Indo-Pacific


US President Joe Biden will host Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide on March 24

Sarahbeth Maney | Getty Images

Without mentioning China, the leaders of four major democracies – the United States, India, Japan and Australia – have reaffirmed their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region that “is undaunted by coercion.”

US President Joe Biden hosted the Quad Leaders Summit on Friday, where the Prime Ministers of India, Japan and Australia gathered in Washington DC for their first face-to-face meeting.

“Together we commit ourselves once again to promoting the free, open, rules-based order, which is rooted in international law and is not deterred by coercion, in order to strengthen security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and beyond,” said Biden together with Narendra from India Modi, Japan’s Yoshihide That’s what Suga and Australian Scott Morrison said in a joint statement.

The statement made no mention of China or its increasing influence in the region as the country becomes more confident in the highly competitive South China Sea and East China Sea and patrols there regularly.

“We stand for the rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflights, peaceful dispute settlement, democratic values ​​and territorial integrity of states,” they added.

The four countries have an alliance called Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad, which works for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.

“Guaranteed to fail”

In some circles, partly because of Beijing’s increasingly aggressive movements in the East and South China Seas in recent years, the quad is viewed as an anti-Chinese alliance.

Quad members have participated in joint naval exercises and strengthened defense partnerships.

However, the group has shied away from explicitly mentioning China in its public statements and instead focuses on general issues such as Covid-19 and global health, infrastructure and climate change.

More here: Read the full report on CNBC’s Quad Project, including data visualizations, maps, and a timeline

Still, Beijing’s presence remains an overhang.

China’s presence is felt in all initiatives the Quad member states want to pursue, including vaccine diplomacy, infrastructure, technology cooperation and maritime security, said Harsh Pant, director of the strategic study program at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.

“The idea is that these countries offer the alternative to what the Chinese are trying to offer through their own model,” Pant told CNBC on Monday. For many smaller states in the Indo-Pacific there is currently a choice of either persecuting China or nothing, he said.

Beijing has an ambitious Belt and Road initiative aimed at expanding China’s global influence by expanding rail and sea trade routes connecting the country with Central Asia, Europe and Africa.

For its part, China considers the Quad alliance “doomed”.

“A closed, exclusive clique targeting other countries goes against the trend of the times and the aspirations of regional countries,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian at a press conference on Friday before the quad leaders’ meeting.

“It will find no support and it is doomed to fail,” he added.

New and existing initiatives

The Quad announced a number of new initiatives on Friday and promised to reinforce existing commitments.

They include:

Covid-19 vaccinations
The United States, India, Japan and Australia have pledged to donate more than 1.2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines worldwide – in addition to the vaccinations the four countries already receive through the International Vaccine Access Facility for Low Income Countries known as Covax , have financed. India, one of the largest vaccine manufacturers in the world, announced that it will resume exporting vaccines from next month.

Quad infrastructure coordination group
The leaders announced a group that will coordinate efforts to build quality infrastructure and provide technical assistance to regional partners to meet the infrastructure needs of the Indo-Pacific region.

Fighting climate change
Tackling climate change was one of the main talking points for the Quad. The group announced several actions, including the creation of a green shipping network, inviting large ports from each country to work together to reduce carbon emissions from the shipping value chain.

Critical and New Technologies
Regarding critical and emerging technologies like 5G, the Quad announced plans to establish a semiconductor supply chain initiative to map and identify vulnerabilities and secure access to semiconductors and their vital components.

The four countries plan to collaborate on space technology by setting up a new working group to discuss ways to share Earth observation satellite data and analyze the risks of climate change.