The Quad’s foreign ministers are meeting on February 11 with an agenda to translate its discussions and objectives on the ground, whether it’s vaccine delivery, critical and emerging technologies. Of course, belligerent China will be the elephant in the room.
Ahead of the Quad Summit in April-May this year, foreign ministers from the powerful security group are meeting in Australia on Friday to operationalize the Indo-Pacific arrangement, vaccine delivery, critical technologies and emerging and the global security environment.
External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar left for the four-ministerial via Qatar this morning with India clear that the security group should consolidate its gains and reflect policies on the ground before even talking about expansion of the arrangement. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Ann Payne will attend the crucial meeting at a time when China is belligerent with Quad partners over Taiwan and is dragging its feet to fully resolve Ladakh’s position in May 2020 -off with India.
After attending the Quad meeting, EAM Jaishankar will hold bilateral talks with his Australian counterpart with a possible meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison as the two countries quickly cemented their ties after 2014. Australia is one of India’s key partners with Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally investing in improving bilateral relations with Canberra as the two middle powers converge on a host of issues.
While the Quad raised its level from foreign minister in 2017 to foreign minister in 2019 and to summit level in 2021, the grouping will be linked by a chain of diplomatic blockchains with no permanent secretariat as it is a thing of the pass. The meeting is extremely important because the foreign ministers will translate the QUAD policies on the ground rather than reducing them to a chat room. For example, the four leaders will sit together to translate the delivery of vaccines to the field by assigning specific tasks such as the manufacture and financing of Covid vaccines to the leading countries.
As Quad ministers deliberate on the Ukraine crisis and China’s emerging proximity to Russia and its belligerence over Taiwan, leaders will also discuss building reliable supply chains for emerging and critical technologies such as 5G, 6G, artificial intelligence and quantum computing. “Rather than debating the expansion of Quad, now is the time to translate policies on the ground. The time for tokenism is over, Quad must be actionable,” said a former foreign minister.
At the Canberra summit, Quad ministers are expected to develop a policy of linking partners’ diplomatic bureaucracies, as these are the biggest obstacle to progress. “It’s one thing to make a statement about vaccines, but with the kind of political overtones that vaccines have acquired, Quad ministers need to identify who will manufacture the vaccine and which countries will be supplied as a priority as per requirement. said a former Indian ambassador to the United States.