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Quad looks to Pacific

The Indo-Pacific region will be seeing more than US$50 billion in infrastructure investment and aid in the next five years from Japan, the United States, Australia and India.

The leaders of these four nations met in Japan for the Quad conference which ended on Tuesday.

And an obvious outcome is the leaders agreeing to further strengthen their cooperation with Pacific island countries.

On discussion was China’s move into the Pacific and the conflict in Ukraine, however much was not said about the latter issue given the neutrality of India on the topic.

This was only the second in-person summit for the Quad but it was clear from the messages of the leaders that they all called for a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Anthony Albanese, Joe Biden, Fumio Kishida and Narendra Modi. Picture: Narendra Modi Twitter

Speaking at a press conference, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida hailed the four countries coming together to send a message to the world that they would not tolerate a unilateral change of status quo by force in any region.

The Quad leaders also shared their concerns over the Ukraine conflict, while affirming the need to respect sovereignty and territorial integrity, Mr Kishida said.

U.S. President Joe Biden said the Ukraine crisis only heightened the importance of ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Mr Kishida, Mr Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi commended the attendance of Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. He jetted to Japan to attend the meeting in Tokyo within hours of being sworn in as his country’s new leader.

Mr Albanese assured his counterparts that the new Australian government remained committed to the Quad.

The Quad is widely seen as a counterweight to China’s growing interest in the region, however the tactics they will use to counter China according to the Quad are different.

The group is promoting what it calls practical cooperation in areas such as coronavirus vaccines, infrastructure, climate change and critical technologies.

This means that US$10 billion a year for the next five years could be used by countries in the region to solidify their infrastructure and most importantly focus on projects which would make the Pacific better equipped to deal with climate change.

The leaders of the Quad – Anthony Albanese, Joe Biden, Narendra Modi and Fumio Kishida. Picture: Anthony Albanese Twitter

In a bid to deliver concrete results to contribute to the region, the Quad announced on Tuesday a new maritime initiative to help countries track illegal fishing and monitor other activities in their waters.

Under the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness, the Quad members are committing to offer a faster, wider and more accurate maritime picture of near-real-time activities in regional waters, according to the U.S. government.

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The joint statement took on a tougher tone on Chinese maritime assertiveness than before, with the Quad leaders saying they “strongly oppose any coercive, provocative or unilateral actions” that increase tensions in the East and South China seas.

“Militarisation of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities were among issues that concerned the Quad group,” said the statement.

The four leaders on Tuesday agreed to hold their next in-person summit in 2023, hosted by Australia.

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