Dismissing the idea that the Quad is an Asian NATO, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said there are “interested parties” who are making such analogies and should not be slipped into, stressing that the grouping of four nations is a sort of 21st century way of responding to a more diverse and dispersed world.
Jaishankar was speaking during a panel discussion on ‘A Sea Change? Regional Order and Security in the Indo-Pacific” during the Munich Security Conference (MSC) 2022 on Saturday evening.
“Quad is a collection of four countries who have common interests, common values, a lot of comforts, who happen to be located in the four corners of the Indo-Pacific, who have discovered that in this world no country, not even the United States, has the ability to meet global challenges on its own,” Jaishankar said.
Jaishankar dismissed the idea that the four-member group is an Asian-NATO group as a completely misleading term and said there were interested parties making such analogies.
“I urge you not to fall into this lazy analogy of a NATO-Asia. It’s not because there are three countries that are allies by treaty. We’re not an ally by treaty. It’s not ‘there’s no treaty, no structure, no secretariat, it’s kind of a 21st century way of responding to a more diverse and dispersed world,’ he said of the Quad grouping which includes the states States, India, Australia and Japan as members.
The Quad incarnation began in 2017. It is not a post-2020 development, he said, referring to the tension along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh with China .
“Our relationship with quad partners – the United States, Japan and Australia – has steadily improved over the past 20 years. Quad biking has value in its own right. These are four countries that today recognize that the world would be a better place if they cooperated. And that’s basically what’s happening,” the minister said.
He said the Quad had a range of views on its COVID-19 vaccine project, including the TRIPS waiver, and observed whether it was fair to conduct “business as usual” when he it’s about producing vaccines to contain the century-long pandemic with such horrific consequences.
“The Quad has agreed to do a vaccine project. I don’t think the quad necessarily has an identical point of view on all subjects, including the TRIPS waiver. I think we have a range of points of view to Perhaps ours are, in my view, the most progressive.
“The point that is troubling is … if you have a pandemic that happens once in a century with such horrific consequences and then you say it has to be business as usual when it comes to producing vaccines, ask you – are we doing the right thing?” Jaishankar said.
In October 2020, India and South Africa had submitted the first proposal, suggesting a waiver for all WTO (World Trade Organization) members on the implementation of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement in relating to the prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19.
In May last year, a revised proposal was submitted by 62 co-sponsors, including India, South Africa and Indonesia.
Jaishankar said one of the deep concerns for the international order is that large parts of the world will be under-vaccinated or unvaccinated.
“It will prolong a pandemic that might not have happened. Had we collectively had more effective policies,” he said.
He said it was not just about the issue of vaccines, but the same was happening when it came to climate change.
“And it’s not a unique case on vaccines. I would say that’s what’s happening on climate change as well. We get these homilies about how it’s an existential issue, but when “It’s about really putting resources or spreading technology for public good, we don’t see that. There are real issues, I think the Global South has serious concerns,” Jaishankar said during the discussion.
Jaishankar said India will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic more competitive.
“We are expecting a growth rate of 9.2/9.3 this year, which I think is more than decent. Secondly, our exports are at an all-time high. So it shows that although we let’s not be members of free trade agreements, the reforms we’ve done, the belt-tightening we’ve done, and the lessons of the COVID period have actually created a pretty resilient economy,” he said. -he declares.
He works to ensure more reliable supply chains, he examines critical emerging technologies, ensuring that the 5G, 6G domains are reliable and transparent. It seeks to promote education, maritime safety, ensuring that connectivity projects are market-based and viable.
“There are a lot of global elements to what Quad does. Now obviously if there are challenges to global norms, to global order, to international law, to the rules-based order, there makes sense that anyone working for the good will also look into the challenges of the good,” Jaishankar said.
Talking about connectivity, Jaishankar said that each of the Quad partners today has a connectivity initiative as an EU and if the connectivity initiatives are based on similar outlook like vaccine policy then it is only natural that you come together and synergize and see how it works for each other. .
“We would certainly encourage countries with similar principles and policies of connectivity and I have spent time discussing with the German development minister how we can work our development policy much more closely. conversation we’ve had with the Japanese, the Americans, the Australians within Quad but a lot of them are also bilateral and I think that’s going to be one of the big issues in international relations in the decades to come,” he said. he pointed out.
In response to a question a recent poll released last week indicates that the levels of trust between India and Southeast Asian countries are quite low. India ranks 5th after Japan and the United States, the United Arab Emirates and China, Jaishankar said India’s relations with ASEAN are developing well.
“I’m a politician, so I believe in polls. But I’ve never seen any polls that have made sense to me in foreign policy…but I would like to say that our relationship with ASEAN is developing right now .well…” he said.
He said India had much stronger physical connectivity and security cooperation with ASEAN. The country has signed military supply agreements in the Philippines and has strong bilateral relations with Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam, among others.
Speaking about India’s G20 Presidency next year, Jaishankar said it would be too early to say anything.
He said that being a very heavily contributing member of the G20, India’s priority is to ensure that Indonesia’s chairmanship of the G20 this year is a complete success.
Other panelists in the discussion included Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, US Senator and President of the Senate Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation Jeanne Shaheen and Lynn Kuok (moderator), Shangri-La Dialogue Senior Fellow for Asia-Pacific Security, International Institute for Strategic Studies.
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