Quad meet boosted to summit level amid China threat

New York: Quad collaboration has been upgraded to summit level and the leaders of the four nations — the US, India, Australia, Japan – were set to meet on Friday with visions of expanded, outward-looking cooperation as they face the growing global threats from China.

At their meeting, Prime Ministers Narendra Modi of India, Scott Morrison of Australia and Yoshihide Suga of Japan, and US President Joe Biden were to discuss a broad range of issues beyond the strategic, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

Biden expected discussions of issues facing the global community “from the threat of Covid-19 to economic cooperation, and of course, to the climate crisis”, Psaki said at her briefing.

“That President Biden has made this one of his earliest multilateral engagements speaks to the importance we place on close cooperation with our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific,” she said.

Till now, Quad meetings have been held at the levels of Foreign Ministers and senior diplomats and boosting it to a summit is a sign of the urgency of the Chinese threat for Biden.

At the same time, the broader agenda signals the Quad’s move towards multifaceted cooperation to broaden their footprint, while also keeping the facade, important to India, that it is not directed against China.

Giving America’s vision of the Quad’s future, Admiral Philip Davidson, the commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, said it could “build into something much bigger for the sake of the globe”.

During his campaign for President, Biden had played down the Chinese challenge either because he was not aware of it or because his predecessor President Donald Trump had sounded the alarm about it.

But after becoming President, his outlook changed and he has turned the lunch metaphor around to highlight the competition from Beijing.

“If we don’t get moving, they’re going to eat our lunch,” the President said last month.

Strategic cooperation had been the focus of the Quad, but in seeking to expand its role it goes back to its roots when the four countries came together to carry out tsunami relief and reconstruction in 2004.

Image courtesy of (File photo)

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