By Reena Bhardwaj
Washington [US], March 12 (ANI): US President Joe Biden will step up his efforts to counterbalance China through coordination with like-minded countries on Friday, as he takes part in a first-of-its-kind summit with the leaders of Australia, India and Japan.
According to a US senior administration official, all four participating leaders in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, will lay out a series of views on strategic issues that are important to them and talk about their conceptions of "free and open Indo Pacific."
"I believe that the leaders tomorrow in their private discussion will be open about some of the concerns they have. And I do believe that there will be an honest, open discussion about China's role on the global stage," the official added.
President Biden will be present in the State Dining Room at the White House along with Vice President Kamala Harris and some of the key members of his staff and cabinet.
Secretary of State Antony J Blinken will serve as the moderator, while National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will be there at the table to support President Biden in this summit.
The virtual meeting marks the first summit since the idea for the grouping of the four major democracies was conceived in 2004, in response to the devastation of an earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
In 2007, the countries aligned to tout a vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific but were largely inactive amid pressure from China. Starting from President Bush, followed by President Barack Obama and then President Donald Trump, the Quad has historically enjoyed bipartisan support in the United States.
However, with President Biden making the Quad summit his earliest multilateral engagement speaks to the importance the United States places in the Indo-Pacific.
"President Biden wants to put his stamp on this at the leader level and that's why he basically summons the capacity of the US government, our determination to apply our strategic ingenuity," the senior administration official told reporters.
"All of us (Quad countries) have been subjected to cyber-attacks and I think there is a desire to explore areas where we can improve digital hygiene compare notes more generally think a little bit about best global practices is also the case that each of these countries is acutely interested in standards-setting for 5G and other global technologies that are going to be critical in the 21st century," the official added.
The four works leaders will underscore a series of views on strategic issues that are important to them. In recent months, relations between China and Quad countries have plummeted.
China-India tensions have simmered since last summer when the nuclear-armed neighbours saw their first clash in decades along the world's longest unmarked border, the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
China imposed what analysts see as politically motivated sanctions on a range of Australian commodities, including barley, lobster and wine after Australian leaders called for an open investigation for the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
Japan has been alarmed in recent months by a rising number of incursions by Chinese military ships and aircraft over disputed waters in the East China Sea.
Quad partners are also expected to take important steps on climate change. "They will be pledging to fully implement the Paris agreement to work together on global climate actions, and to cooperate on climate mitigation, adaptation resilience technology, capacity building and climate finance," the official said.
Post the Quad summit, Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to Japan and South Korea on Sunday to "reaffirm the United States' commitment to strengthening our alliances," State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
Austin will travel on to India. Blinken and Jake Sullivan will meanwhile meet with China's top two foreign policy officials in Alaska. (ANI)