Highlights of September 26 meeting of the Quad Grouping

Senior officials from the Foreign Ministries of the Quad group of countries met virtually on September 26, 2020. This meeting was held during the United Nations high level week. This was a part of their periodic consultations on the Indo-Pacific region.

Key Facts

  • In the virtual meet, ongoing and proposed practical cooperation in the areas of connectivity and infrastructure development were discussed by the officials.
  • Citing the importance of digital connectivity and secure networks, they discussed the ways to promote the use of trusted vendors. This was specifically meant for the  fifth generation (5G) networks.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has been promoting clean telcos in order to stop Chinese G5 giant Huawei from setting up shop networks in other countries.
  • A list of companies has been considered by the U.S. administration in order to be free from security risks and the risk of surveillance by the Chinese government.
  • The Quad officials also discussed counter-terrorism, cyber security, maritime security and quality infrastructure in the region.

ASEAN inclusiveness

The officials also committed to support the concept of ASEAN-centrality in the Indo-Pacific Region. They also agree to recognize  ASEAN’s leadership in the architecture of the region. The grouping explored the ways to work together in the Mekong sub-region, in the South China Sea and across the Indo-Pacific in order to support international law, promote regional stability and post-pandemic recovery efforts. The ASEAN as well as other countries would towards realizing “a common and promising vision for the Indo-Pacific”.

Bone of contention

USA though mention and forced upon “free and open Indo-Pacific” but the grouping has been hesitant for the Quad to be seen as a framework to exclude or contain China. Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also articulated an inclusive vision for the Indo Pacific in 2018 at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore. But then, India-China relations were on a high relative and there were no tensions and clashes along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

QUAD grouping

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) is also known as the Quad. It is an informal strategic forum that includes the United States, Japan, Australia and India. The forum was initiated in 2007 by Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe. They maintain semi-regular summits, information exchanges and military drills between member countries.

ASEAN Nations

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional intergovernmental organization that comprises of  ten countries of Southeast Asia-  Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore,  Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam and one Observer – Papua New Guinea. The organization promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, military, political, security, educational and sociocultural integration among  the members and other countries in Asia region.