The Financial Times reported on the 7th that Biden may convene the first “Quad” leaders’ Summit next week aimed at containing China. This will be the first summit hosted by Biden since he took office.
According to reports, Australian Prime Minister Morrison confirmed to reporters on March 5 that the U.S., Japan, India and Australia will hold their first leaders’ Summit, although no specific time was specified. He said, “It will be four leaders, four countries working constructively together for peace, prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.” Axios News also recently cited sources familiar with the matter, saying Biden plans to hold a video conference with the leaders of Japan, Australia and India this month under the “Quad” mechanism. The White House has not yet confirmed the upcoming meeting, India’s attitude is considered a decisive factor determining whether or not the meeting can be held. The Indian Express reported on 6 March that sources in New Delhi told reporters that March 12 was being explored as a possible date for the Summit. There are also unconfirmed reports that the four countries are developing a strategy for “vaccine distribution diplomacy” in the Indo-Pacific region as part of a counterbalancing of “Chinese vaccine diplomacy”. This will be announced at the Summit.
The U.S., Japanese, Indian and Australian Foreign Ministers met last month under the “Quad” mechanism. According to the Financial Times, India’s attitude toward the mechanism has changed recently, and tensions along the India-China border are considered to be the main reason. Abhijit Singh, a researcher at the Observer Research Foundation of India who served in the Indian Navy, said that India is unlikely to immediately pursue deepening military cooperation in the “four-nation mechanism” in view of the disengagement being undertaken by Indian and Chinese forces recently, and that India is “a little wary of transforming the ‘four-nation mechanism into some form of anti-China alliance,” “but if we see more trouble from China, the (Indian) government’s posture on the issue could change.”
Reuters quoted unnamed sources in the Indian government on the 7th as saying that U.S. Defense Secretary Austin could visit India next week. This would be the first visit to India by a senior Biden Administration official. The report said Austin’s trip will focus on strengthening cooperation to counter China’s growing power in the Asia-Pacific region.