The Quadrilateral alliance (Quad) is a “force for good,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his opening remarks at its summit in Tokyo on Tuesday. The event witnessed the launch of several initiatives, including a maritime project that will allow the tracking of “dark shipping” across the Indo-Pacific region.
“Our confidence and determination are strengthening the democratic forces. Our cooperation at the level of Quad is aimed at an inclusive Indo-Pacific region. We increased cooperation during the COVID-19 regarding vaccine delivery, climate action, supply chain resilience, disaster response,” he noted.
The summit among the leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the United States took place exactly three months after Russia launched the invasion of Ukraine that has sent shockwaves across the geopolitical system, affecting energy, and food markets.
Silent about Ukraine
Mr. Modi, however, remained silent about the Ukraine crisis in his opening remarks. A joint statement issued after the meeting addressed the concerns arising out of the crisis. It said the member countries “discussed respective responses to the conflict in Ukraine and the ongoing tragic humanitarian crisis and assessed its implications for the Indo-Pacific”. One of the several “implications” of the Ukraine crisis that has been discussed since Russia launched the attack has focused on possible Chinese military moves in the Indo-Pacific region. The summit’s concerns were played out almost simultaneously as a joint patrol by the Russian and Chinese forces took place near the Japanese territories, drawing global attention.
Apart from the Ukraine crisis, the leaders also took note of the post-coup crackdown in Myanmar and called for the release of “all political detainees, including foreigners”. They also sought the “swift restoration of democracy”. In this regard, they welcomed the role of the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair.
“Quad has adopted a constructive agenda for the Indo-Pacific region. This will further enhance Quad’s image as a force for good,” Mr. Modi said. He congratulated the newly elected Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who flew to Tokyo a day after defeating incumbent Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The leaders of the Quad countries announced the formation of the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA), which will build a “faster, wider, and more accurate maritime picture of near-real-time activities in partners’ waters.”
“The benefits of this (maritime) picture are vast: it will allow tracking of “dark shipping” and other tactical-level activities, such as rendezvous at sea, as well as improve partners’ ability to respond to climate and humanitarian events and to protect their fisheries, which are vital to many Indo-Pacific economies,” a factsheet regarding the summit announced. This common operating picture will integrate three critical regions—the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region - in the Indo-Pacific.
In close consultations with regional partners, the IPMDA would offer a near-real-time, integrated, and cost-effective maritime domain awareness picture, it stated, adding this initiative would transform the ability of partners in the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region to fully monitor the waters on their shores and, in turn, to uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific.