In a significant step towards formalisation of Quadrilateral or Quad the leaders of India-USA-Japan-Australia will hold their maiden summit on Friday to discuss among other issues practical cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, resilient supply chain initiatives, maritime security and emerging and critical technologies.

This is a big message to China and marks continuation of Trump era policy. The Quad Foreign Ministers met twice during the Trump Presidential years and recently held a meet in virtual format.

Announcing the summit that will be held virtually the Ministry of External Affairs stated, “PM Narendra Modi will be participating, along with Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison and Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihide Suga and President of USA Joseph R Biden, in the first Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework, being held virtually on 12th March 2021.”

The Leaders will discuss regional and global issues of shared interest, and exchange views on practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, officials informed. China’s ambitious agenda in the Indo-Pacific region has been a worry for all four Quad members.

The Summit will provide an opportunity to exchange views on contemporary challenges such as resilient supply chains, emerging and critical technologies, maritime security, and climate change, officials added. It may be noted here that India-Japan-Australia launched their resilient supply chain initiative last year to reduce overdependence on China-led supply chain.

The Leaders will also discuss ongoing efforts to combat Covid-19 pandemic and explore opportunities for collaboration in ensuring safe, equitable and affordable vaccines in the Indo-Pacific region. However, Quad is unlikely to have structured existence including a big secretariat with a big bureaucracy.

Incidentally India announced its participation in the Quad Summit after a phone between Modi and Suga earlier in the day. The PMs of India and Japan on Tuesday discussed the Myanmar situation besides the situation in the East and South China Sea, China’s Coast Guard Law and the situation in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, according to a Japanese government statement. Interestingly, the Indian statement did not have any references to China and Myanmar.

During the summit telephone talk Suga shared the recognition that cooperation towards realizing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific is becoming increasingly important and to this end, shared the view to steadily advance both Japan-India bilateral cooperation and Japan-Australia-India-U.S. quadrilateral cooperation, according to a statement by the Japanese government.