With an eye on China, Biden to hold first summit with India, Australia, Japan

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Mar 12, 2021, 09:20 AM(IST)

Biden and Modi Photograph:( WION )

Story highlights

Friday's four-way summit, while virtual, will mark the first time that leaders of the United States, Japan, India and Australia have met together following more than a decade of meetings at lower levels of the so-called "Quad."

US President Joe Biden on Friday will hold the first-ever four-way summit with the leaders of India, Australia, and Japan -- in order to cement alliances as concerns grow over a rising China.

Friday's four-way summit, while virtual, will mark the first time that leaders of the United States, Japan, India and Australia have met together following more than a decade of meetings at lower levels of the so-called "Quad."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australian PM Scott Morrison, and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga will meet virtually at 7 pm IST.

India's Ministry of External Affairs said 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."

The summit comes at a time that all four democracies see relations deteriorate with China, which in the past year engaged in a deadly clash with Indian forces in the Himalayas, has stepped up activity near islands administered by Japan and has imposed sanctions on Australian products following a series of disputes.

The Biden administration, however, has been careful not to link the Quad explicitly to China -- a shift in rhetoric after former president Donald Trump's strident denunciations of Beijing.

In strategic guidance released earlier this month, the White House cast China as the top challenger and said the United States can help counter Beijing's "aggression" by "bolstering and defending our unparalleled network of allies and partners."

Blinken has said he will press concerns with Chinese officials on trade and human rights including sweeping new curbs on Hong Kong's elections and the mass incarceration of Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities, a policy that both Biden and Trump have described as genocide.

China's state-run Global Times newspaper criticised the Quad summit as a US plot against Beijing, saying in an opinion piece that India -- which has rapidly warming relations with the United States but is not a treaty-bound ally -- should have taken a distance.

"The Quad is not an alliance of like-minded countries as the US claims," the newspaper said, opining that the three other nations face "the embarrassment of being between the pressure from the US and their own interests with China."

But the three other nations have voiced enthusiasm over the summit and said they hoped to discuss Covid-19 and climate change, two key priorities for Biden.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called the talks "an historic moment in our region" while India said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would promote "a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region."

Japan announced that Prime Minister Suga will become the first foreign leader to see Biden in person, a sign of the primacy the new US leader attaches to allies.

In Tokyo, top government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said that Suga will visit the White House "as early as the first half of April" if conditions allow.

Also read | First-ever Quad summit to focus on Indo-Pacific, Covid vaccines

(with inputs from agencies)

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