India, America, Japan and Australia will soon hold the first meeting of their leaders under the so-called Quad framework amid China’s rising belligerence in the India-Pacific region, a Japanese news report said on Sunday.
The Japan Times said the move came as newly inaugurated US President Biden’s new administration “appeared eager to build on” the grouping of the four major Indo-Pacific democracies. It said the US had already proposed to other countries the idea of holding an online meeting of the Quad leaders. The paper quoted US national security adviser Jake Sullivan calling, in recent remarks, the Quad a “foundation upon which to build substantial American policy in the Indo-Pacific”.
Last week Biden spoke on the challenges posed by China but did not once refer to the Indo-Pacific, a term used to refer to a vast swathe of sea and land mass from the US West Coast to the eastern shores of Africa. It had received a considerable amount of currency and attention during former president Donald Trump’s administration, with Washington renaming the Hawai-based Pacific Command as the Indo-Pacific Command in May 2018.
“Biden’s biggest foreign-policy challenge relates to the world’s economic and geopolitical hub – the Indo-Pacific. A ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ strategy has been a linchpin of US foreign policy. Yet, in his first foreign-policy address, Biden made no mention of the Indo-Pacific,” said Brahma Chellaney, strategic affairs expert with the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research think tank in a Twitter post on Saturday.
According to the Japan Times, a summit of leaders of the Quad was up to India, given New Delhi’s “relatively cautious stance” on the framework, it said.
During the proposed meeting, participants are expected to discuss cooperation for the realisation of a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ amid China’s maritime assertiveness in the region, the Japan Times said.