IFor once in the White House, they don’t want to appear combative at all. “There is no military dimension and no security dimension,” said a senior official in the Biden administration in an interview with journalists about the Quad Summit, the meeting of the US President with the heads of state and government of Australia, India and Japan.
It is about economic cooperation, technology transfer and the joint fight against pandemics. Quad has absolutely nothing to do with the new American-British-Australian military alliance Aukus. “They are two very different things. Even if there are overlaps, with Australia of course. “Quad is simply an” informal group of democratic states that care about a free and open Indo-Pacific “. Of course, none of this is directed against China. Not a bit. Really not.
The four statesmen who appeared together in front of the press on Friday did not even mention the People’s Republic. The front position in which they are forming can only be seen implicitly, for example when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared: “We are liberal democracies.”
The aim of Quad is to show that democracies can achieve something. There should be no coercion in the region and the sovereign role of all nations must be respected. Disputes should be resolved in accordance with international law. And India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is confident that cooperation between the four states will ensure prosperity and peace in the Indo-Pacific region and in the world.
There is a “strong solidarity” between the countries, emphasized Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. US President Joe Biden is the gentlest. “When we met six months ago, we made specific commitments to advance our common and positive agenda for a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” says Biden. “Today I can proudly say that we are making excellent progress.”
The results of the summit are not very specific. They hardly go beyond what was previously in press releases or beyond the general goals of the group that came together after the 2004 tsunami and has since met mostly at the official level.
The countries have now agreed to work together in the fields of vaccines, clean energy and space travel and hold a summit every year, the Japanese Suga told reporters after the meeting. The group has also announced that it will support each other in the fight against cybercrime and the expansion of 5G communication technology.
Actually, at the last meeting, the countries had decided to export a billion doses of corona vaccine to the states of Southeast Asia. Nothing can be heard of that this time. Also because India – one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturers in the world – had banned the export of the vaccine in the meantime. After all: Indian Prime Minister Modi announced at the quad meeting that it would allow eight million cans to be exported by the end of October.
The question arises as to why the four Pacific democracies are keeping their mutual adversary China so quiet. After all, they have common problems with the People’s Republic.
The real goal of the Quad Initiative
There is China’s aggressive rearmament, the ever expanding presence of the Chinese navy and the militarization of territorial conflicts. There are China’s unfair trade practices, industrial espionage and the Beijing leadership’s disregard for human rights. None of that is discussed here. Although the states repeatedly address it elsewhere. But quad obviously has a different function.
The four powers want to present themselves as a friendly, economic alliance, as a model case with cooperation offers to the Asian neighbors. Apparently, they are following the realization that China is also gaining influence worldwide by making offers of help to smaller and poorer countries – for example in the areas that Quad focuses on: trade, technology, infrastructure.
If the model of liberal democracy is to have a chance in Asia, it must also be lucrative. Aggressive tones would not fit this win-win logic.
But anyone who has doubts that the meeting of the four was actually about China can be instructed by Beijing’s reaction. Quad is a “closed, exclusive clique that is directed against other countries,” said the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian. The countries would find no support and are doomed to fail.