Joint Quad statement by U.S., India, Japan and Australia seeks to offer a broader vision

Mayank Chhaya-

Mayank Chayya

Somewhat unusually and likely at India’s behest the Quad joint leaders’ statement specifically condemns November 26, 2008, terrorist attacks in Mumbai as well as January 2, 2016, terrorist attack in Pathankot.

“We reiterate our condemnation of terrorist attacks, including 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot attacks,” the statement jointly issued today by U.S. President Joe Biden, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.

The statement came at the end of the fourth meeting, second in person, of the quadrilateral or Quad arrangement between America, India, Japan and Australia.

One of the commitments in the statement was under the Quad’s overarching mandate of peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific. That commitment said, “We condemn unequivocally terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations and reiterate that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever. We denounce the use of terrorist proxies and emphasize the importance of denying any logistical, financial or military support to terrorist groups which could be used to launch or plan terror attacks, including cross-border attacks. We reiterate our condemnation of terrorist attacks, including 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot attacks. We also reaffirm UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021), which demands that Afghan territory must never again be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists or to plan or finance terrorist attacks. We emphasize the importance of upholding international standards on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism by all countries, consistent with FATF recommendations. We reaffirm that in our fight against global terrorism, we will take concerted action against all terrorist groups, including those individuals and entities designated pursuant to the UNSC Resolution 1267(1999).”

The explicit reference to the Mumbai and Pathankot terrorist attacks stood out in the otherwise broad overview.

The 3000-plus word Quad statement seeks to lay down a long-term vision for the Indo-Pacific which includes addressing challenges arising in the areas of COVID-19 and Global Health Security, Infrastructure, Climate, Cybersecurity, Space and Maritime Domain. It is noteworthy that a majority of these are necessarily global in their footprint and impact.

In the urgent context of climate change, the Quad statement refers in some detail to the kind of cooperation needed to arrest and reverse the planetary existential threat posed by climate change. “Today, we launch the “Quad Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Package (Q-CHAMP)” with “mitigation” and “adaptation” as its two themes. Q-CHAMP includes ongoing activities under the Quad Climate Working Group on: green shipping and ports aiming for a shared green corridor framework building on each Quad country’s input; clean energy cooperation in clean hydrogen and methane emissions from the natural gas sector; strengthening clean energy supply chains, welcoming the contribution of the Sydney Energy Forum; climate information services for developing an engagement strategy with Pacific island countries; and disaster risk reduction, including disaster and climate-resilient infrastructure such as the efforts through the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI),” the statement said.

It appears that the four leaders and their aides have taken enough care to craft a joint Quad vision that is not viewed by the elephant outside the room, namely China, as a direct threat to it. Even though on the sidelines of the Quad summit Biden did stir up strong emotions yesterday by candidly answering in the affirmative the question of whether the U.S. would get the military involved were China to invade Taiwan. His attempt to nuance his candor was not full-throated and it prompted China to say Washington would be playing with fire in trying to intervene militarily.

The statement makes no direct reference to China by name except while talking about South China Sea.

“We will champion adherence to international law, particularly as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the maintenance of freedom of navigation and overflight, to meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the East and South China Seas. We strongly oppose any coercive, provocative or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo and increase tensions in the area, such as the militarization of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities,” it said.