Foreign Ministers of QUAD countries to meet in Tokyo

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar will meet the foreign ministers of the Australia-India-Japan-United States Quadrilateral or Quad in Tokyo today, on October 6, 2020. The meeting will be a significant turning point for the QUAD grouping. The meeting would be led by growing concerns over China’s aggression in the region.

Highlights

  • Cooperation on 5G connectivity, cybersecurity, a supply chain initiative for manufacturing, maritime cooperation and infrastructure and connectivity and distribution plans for the COVID-19 vaccine will be discussed.
  • The meeting will begin with a “regional assessment” that includes  developments in the South and East China Sea, six-month stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Hong Kong and Taiwan. There are the regions where China has been highly aggressive.
  • They will also discuss the issue of including Australia in the next edition of the Malabar naval exercises.
  • Japan will push a plan for a trilateral “Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI)” with India and Australia in order to reduce dependence on Chinese manufacturing.  This step is being taken in the backdrop of India’s refusal to be a part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which is ASEAN-led.
  • India will discuss how Quad countries can help in building “East-West” connectivity from India to ASEAN countries so as to counter the “North-South connectivity” from China.
  • India is also going to discuss on joint funding for infrastructure and connectivity projects in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • They might discuss a U.S. plan for a “Blue Dot Network” to rate infrastructure projects for funding.

India-Japan

Apart from that, India will hold bilateral meetings with Japan, Australian and U.S. separately during this two day Tokyo meeting in which bilateral defence cooperation will be a common theme. Japan has also made a special arrangements to host the meeting as the new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is willing to show his commitment to the Quad process.

China’s Stand

China is criticizing the meeting by tagging it as an “exclusive clique” and  “an anti-China front line”.  China also said the grouping is a “mini-NATO” which is being led by the “cold war mentality”.