US President, Joe Biden, has disclosed in a summit with key Asian allies that the world is “navigating a dark hour in our shared history” with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to Mr. Biden, the war (Russia and Ukraine) has now become a “global issue” underscoring the importance of defending the international order. In the same meeting, Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, also echoed his comments, indicating that a similar invasion should not happen in Asia.
The comments by the two leaders came at a time when Mr. Biden is meeting the leaders of Japan, Australia and India in Tokyo, on his first visit to Asia as President. The four countries known collectively as the Quad, met to discuss security and economic concerns including China’s growing influence in the region, as well as differences over the Russian invasion.
Reason for President Biden’s Comments
Mr. Biden’s comments came a day after he warned China that it is “flirting with danger” over Taiwan, and vowed to protect Taiwan Militarily if China attacked.
In his opening remarks at the summit, Mr. Biden said that their meeting is about “democracies versus autocracies, and we have to make sure that we deliver”, adding that the Ukraine war “is going to affect all parts of the world” as Russia’s blockade of Ukraine grain exports worsens a global food crisis. Mr. Biden allegedly promised that the US would work with allies to lead the global response, reiterating their commitment to defend international order and sovereignty “regardless of where they were violated in the world” and remaining a “strong and enduring partner” in the Indo-Pacific region.
Standing Differences Among Quad Leaders
While Quad leaders will be looking to present a united front, there are differences.
India is the only Quad member so far that has refused to directly criticise Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. In his opening remarks at the summit on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, did not touch on the issue. On the other side, Australia’s new Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, emphasised his country’s commitment to regional security and climate change.
What is the Quad, and why is China a concern?
Formally referred to as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the Quad began as a loose grouping of countries following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that united to provide humanitarian and disaster assistance. After that, the group was dormant before it was resuscitated in 2017.
Since then, the top leaders have gathered for the fourth time, they have already met once in Washington last September 2021 and twice virtually, in less than two years. According to analysts, the steady decline in each Quad nation’s bilateral ties with China in the past few years appears to have given the grouping more push.
There is mounting discomfort with China’s growing confidence in the region, with ongoing maritime disputes between China and several countries, and a land boundary conflict with India. Also, Beijing’s heavy investment in strengthening its navy and its recent security pact with the Solomon Islands has stoked fears in Australia, while Japan has become increasingly wary of what it calls routine “incursions” from the Chinese navy in its waters.
As part of a move to preserve US interests in the region, Mr. Biden unveiled the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) on Monday, May 23, 2022, which is a new US-led trade pact that aims to promote regional growth that includes 13 countries, mostly in Asia.
US Commerce Secretary, Gina Raimondo, called it an “important turning point in restoring US economic leadership in the region” that would provide countries with “an alternative to China’s approach”. According to Officials, it would set standards in the areas of trade, supply chains, clean energy and infrastructure, and tax and anti-corruption.
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