In a joint statement issued at a summit in Hiroshima, the leaders of the Quad group, comprising Australia, India, Japan, and the United States, delivered a clear but veiled message to China, expressing their strong opposition to destabilizing actions and unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion. While the statement did not explicitly mention China, it was evident that the communist superpower was the intended target.
The Quad leaders emphasized their commitment to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific maritime domain, expressing serious concerns over China’s military expansion and the militarization of disputed features. They specifically highlighted China’s construction of bases on former offshore reefs and the use of coastguard and maritime militia vessels to harass non-Chinese vessels in contested waters. These actions have heightened tensions in the region and raised alarms among neighboring countries.
Furthermore, the Quad leaders voiced their concern about China’s economic tactics, which have been aimed at gaining leverage over poorer nations. The joint statement stressed the group’s support for infrastructure improvements in the Asia-Pacific region while making it clear that they would not impose unsustainable debt burdens on recipient countries. This reference was seen as a direct criticism of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which has come under scrutiny for burdening developing nations with massive debt.
Highlighting the importance of connectivity, the Quad leaders announced a partnership to support undersea cable networks in the Indo-Pacific. The development and maintenance of these networks are crucial for global growth and prosperity. Additionally, they expanded an existing pilot program for high-tech monitoring of illegal fishing, demonstrating their commitment to maritime security and sustainable resource management.
The leaders of the Quad also addressed other regional concerns, expressing their deep concern over the repression in Myanmar and condemning North Korea’s ballistic missile launches and pursuit of nuclear weapons, which are in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions.
The Quad summit took place while the leaders were already gathered in Hiroshima for the Group of 7 summit. US President Joe Biden apologized for the change in plans and extended an invitation to Albanese, the Australian Prime Minister, to make a state visit to the White House.
This joint statement by the Quad countries sends a strong message to China, emphasizing the importance of upholding peace, stability, and international rules in the Indo-Pacific region. The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to work together to address shared challenges, protect the interests of their countries, and promote a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific. As tensions continue to rise in the region, the Quad’s unified stance reflects a growing consensus among like-minded countries to counterbalance China’s influence and ensure a stable and prosperous future for the region.