Vaccines Likely Focus At Quad Summit Today Featuring PM Narendra Modi, Joe Biden

Quad Summit: The virtual engagement is expected to last for about two hours. (File)

New Delhi:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will today take part in the first meeting of the “Quad” group of nations. While it is not yet known if PM Modi and Mr Biden will have an exclusive meeting, this will be their first meeting since the latter took over as US President. The virtual summit -seen as part of efforts to balance China’s growing military and economic power – will focus on a coronavirus vaccine initiative to effectively deal with the pandemic, news agency PTI quoted people familiar with the matter as saying. The meeting also plans to announce financing agreements to support an increase in manufacturing capacity for coronavirus vaccines in India, a senior US administration official told news agency Reuters. India is the world’s biggest vaccine maker.

Here’s your 10-point cheatsheet to the Quad summit:

  1. A key focus at the summit will be the vaccine initiative under which anti-Covid vaccines will be developed in the US, manufactured in India, financed by Japan and US, and supported by Australia.

  2. The agreements will focus particularly on Indian vaccine manufacturers for American pharma giants Novavax Inc and Johnson & Johnson, a US official said.

  3. India has urged the three other Quad nations to invest in its vaccine production capacity, a government source told Reuters, to counter China’s vaccine diplomacy.

  4. Calling it a “historic moment”, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the “Quad” countries would discuss security challenges across the Indo-Pacific, climate change and efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the region. “There have been many other meetings, but when governments come together at the highest level, this shows a whole new level of cooperation to create a new anchor for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

  5. Another point of discussion during the meeting will be on securing rare earth metals that are essential to the production of electric car motors and other products, the Nikkei newspaper reported. According to the report, China currently produces nearly 60 per cent of the world’s rare earth metals, and its market power has posed supply concerns. 

  6. The virtual engagement is expected to last for about two hours and lay the groundwork for an in-person meeting later in the year, a senior US official told news agency Reuters this week.

  7. PM Modi and his Japanese counterpart spoke on the phone on Tuesday. Apart from India-Japan ties, they discussed the Quad summit. The Japanese government said Mr Yoshihide expressed serious concerns regarding “unilateral attempts” to change the status quo in the East and South China Sea, in a clear reference to China.

  8. The “Quad” or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is an informal strategic forum of the US, Japan, Australia, and India. It was revived in 2017 as a buffer against Beijing. The Quad remains a strong focus for the four nations that have each had conflicts with China in recent years.

  9. At the last meeting of the Quad in October, the four nations had re-affirmed the importance of maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of the border dispute with China and the southeast Asian giant’s aggressive military behaviour in the Indo-Pacific and the South China Sea.

  10. In November, the Quad nations came together to participate in a two-phase joint military exercise, Malabar 2020,  in the Bay of Bengal and in the Arabian Sea.

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