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Revived 'Quad' alliance affirms commitment to 'meet challenges' in South China Sea

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Revived 'Quad' alliance affirms commitment to 'meet challenges' in South China Sea
A monitor displaying a virtual meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden (top L), Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison (bottom L), Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (top R) and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seen during the virtual Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) meeting, at Suga's official residence in Tokyo on March 12, 2021.
AFP / Kiyoshi Ota / Pool

MANILA, Philippines — Leaders of Australia, India, Japan and United States reaffirmed their commitment to quadrilateral cooperation, including maritime security in the East and China Seas.

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and US President Joe Biden virtually met last Friday.

Why this matters: This was the first meeting of the top leaders of the four countries, known as "Quad," initially formed as a counterweight to China's influence in the Indo-Pacific.

  • In a joint statement, the Quad leaders vowed to prioritize the role of international law in the maritime domain, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
     
  • The four powers committed to "meet challenges to the rules-based maritime order in the East and South China Seas."
     
  • While the leaders did not mention China, it is well known that Beijing continues to reject a July 2016 ruling, which favored the Philippines and rejected its expansive claims in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.
     
  • "We support the rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes, democratic values, and territorial integrity. We commit to work together and with a range of partners," the leaders said, particularly mentioning ASEAN.

    
What's next?: US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday met with their Japanese counterparts and Prime Minister Suga following their first overseas trip. After a trip to South Korea, the two officials will go on separate ways as Austin heads to India while Blinken returns to the US for talks with Chinese officials.

Worth noting: In a joint opinion piece published in the Washington Post on Monday, Austian and Blinken said they would look to "revitalise our ties with friends and partners."

"Our combined power makes us stronger when we must push back against China's aggression and threats," they wrote. — with AFP

AUSTRALIA CHINA INDIA JAPAN JOE BIDEN NARENDRA MODI QUAD SCOTT MORRISON SOUTH CHINA SEA UNITED STATES WEST PHILIPPINE SEA YOSHIHIDE SUGA
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