- The US is going with QUAD and the countries in the region to ensure that its supply chain in critical technologies remains intact.
- PM Modi’s visit has ensured that India can solicit the technologies it needs without depending on any one country.
- India and other democratic countries cannot afford to simply watch Chinese advances in the South China Sea, weaponizing artificial islands, changing rules-based order or taking over other nations unilaterally.
International Politics is seeing a fundamental change today after the end of the Unipolar world. Former US President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ and inward looking policy made the world vulnerable. Further, absence of a rules-based world order, threat in the South China Sea, control of key resources and supply chains, monopoly over semiconductors and rare earth materials to pursue narrow national interests had put democracy, human rights, freedom of navigation and free press in danger. In addition, Ukraine-Russia Conflict, debt-trap diplomacy, the rise of regional terror and non-state actors had enabled military and authoritarian regimes to take control of the land, air, water, space and cyber spaces of small and medium sized countries. It is in this background, the Prime Minister’s visit to Japan and the QUAD summit become very important.
Prime Minister Modi visited Japan on the invitation of his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida. During his two days in Japan,the PM had 23 engagements in around 40 hours and participated in meetings with Japanese CEOs and members of the Indian diaspora. On his second day, he participated in the QUAD summit.
During the meeting between the Indian Prime Minister and the POTUS, Narendra Modi said India and the United States share similar views on the Indo-Pacific. The India-US partnership in the true sense is a “partnership of trust.” Bilateral trade of nearly 100 billion dollars and investment relations are steadily on the rise but are below the potential. He expressed confidence that with the conclusion of the US Investment Incentive Agreement, there will be concrete progress in investment between the two countries. The US President expressed happiness that India and the US have reached an agreement for the US Development Finance Corporation. President Joe Biden said he is glad that both nations are renewing the Indo-US Vaccine Action Programme.
The US is going with QUAD and the countries in the region to ensure that its supply chain in critical technologies remains intact. The US has tied up with South Korea and Taiwan for design & production, Japan for equipment and Malaysia for back end technologies and is not dependent on one country to feed its supply chain. Similarly, PM Modi’s visit has ensured that India can solicit the technologies it needs without depending on any one country.
The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF)
The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) was launched by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden. IPEF’s four goals are to coordinate efforts to secure supply chains, promote renewable energies, grapple with corruption and expand digital trade. The IPEF is the economic pillar of the US Indo-Pacific Strategy and President Joe Biden hailed the significance of the IPEF as a pact that will help member nations’ economies “grow faster and fairer”.
Along with the US, initial participants in the framework include major economies like Australia, India, Japan and South Korea, as well as developing countries, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, and smaller nations like Brunei, New Zealand and Singapore. These countries represent about 40 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product. India is expected to maintain its autonomy and become an initial signatory to the US-proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. The IPEF excludes China.
The QUAD Summit
Japan, which hosted the Quad summit for the first time, is facing challenges from China over its territorial claims in the East China Sea, North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and a long-running territorial dispute with Russia. Hence the QUAD and the mutual agreements with like-minded countries becomes paramount for Japan. The members agreed on opposing 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. Under the “Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness,” the QUAD members have committed to offer a faster, wider and more accurate maritime picture of near-real-time activities in regional waters.
With regards to Taiwan, President Biden clearly stated that the US would intervene militarily if the Chinese mainland took the island of Taiwan by force. In October 2021, Biden had said that the US would protect Taiwan in the event of the Chinese attack. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that “unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, like in Ukraine, should never be tolerated in the Indo-Pacific.”
India and the QUAD
PM Modi reached out to the Japanese leadership including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and pitched for greater participation and investments in a diverse range of sectors. He said the relationship between Japan and India was natural and spiritual given the long history and culture. He highlighted the various partnerships already in place between the two countries to promote business ties. Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to lead a delegation of Japanese MPs to India. The two leaders exchanged views on further strengthening the India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership.
In his opening remarks at the summit, Modi said that QUAD has carved out a niche for itself in the world in a short period and its scope has expanded. He stressed that mutual trust and determination can give new energy and enthusiasm to democratic powers. He said that the QUAD must stand for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific which is bound by mutual cooperation. He called it the shared goal of all QUAD countries. The importance of QUAD was stressed when PM Modi said the presence of the just elected Australian Prime Minister at QUAD within 24 hours of taking the oath, reflects his strong commitment towards it and the strength of QUAD friendship. PM Modi held bilateral talks with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese where both stressed on Multi-faceted cooperation under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, including in trade and investment, defence manufacturing, renewable energy including green hydrogen, education, science and technology, agricultural research, sports and people-to-people ties.
Agenda for the future
India has reached out to all the like-minded world leaders during his visit to Japan including the leaders of the US, East Asian nations, South East Asia and the Pacific countries. India and other democratic countries cannot afford to simply watch Chinese advances in the South China Sea, weaponizing artificial islands, changing rules-based order or taking over other nations unilaterally. As a first step to counter such moves, leaders of Japan, the United States, Australia and India have vowed to extend more than $50 billion in infrastructure aid and investment in the Indo-Pacific over the next five years while making clear that a change of status quo by force anywhere is unacceptable. They stressed on a “free and open Indo-Pacific”.
In an apparent consideration of India’s neutral position on the Ukraine situation, a joint statement issued by the Quad leaders did not even mention the word “Russia” and avoided any explicit accusations against Moscow over the war. China is also believed to be closely watching developments in Russia’s war in Ukraine and the response to the war from the United States and its allies to build its strategy toward Taiwan as Beijing views it as a renegade province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary. The four leaders agreed to hold their next in-person summit in 2023, hosted by Australia.
(Views expressed are author’s own)