Four states commit to liberating the Indo-Pacific

Leaders of the Quad States

Wanting to fight illegal fishing (from left): Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

(Photo: Reuters)

Tokyo At the summit in Japan, a quartet of leading democracies in the Indo-Pacific region plans to launch a new initiative to improve maritime surveillance, which will also include fighting illegal fishing. The White House said Tuesday that joint efforts by the US, Japan, Australia and India would allow near-real-time ocean surveillance to be “faster, broader and more accurate.”

The data will also be available to partner nations in Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Islands to ensure a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” the White House said. Vessels that specifically turn off their positional transmissions so as not to be caught should also be able to be better positioned with the system. China is often accused of tolerating or even promoting illegal fishing in the territorial waters of other countries.

The initiative will be formally launched at a summit of the so-called four states. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, US President Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australia, Anthony Albanese, began their deliberations on Tuesday morning (local time) in Tokyo.

Committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific, the so-called “Quad” are not officially targeted at any specific country, but are seen as part of an effort to counter China’s growing communist rule in the region.

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“Russia’s attack on Ukraine only underscores the importance of the objectives of the basic principles of international order, territorial integrity and sovereignty. International law and human rights must always be defended, wherever in the world they are violated,” Biden said in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Modi doesn’t talk about war

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida said the Russian invasion “shaken the foundations of the international order” and was a direct challenge to United Nations (UN) principles. “We should not allow something similar to happen in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said.

Indian President Modi did not speak of Ukraine or Russia in his remarks. India has so far not supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine under US-imposed sanctions. The country has longstanding ties to Russia, which is a major supplier of defense equipment and oil to India.

Australian Prime Minister Albanese, who is making his international debut, vowed to invest in the group to fight climate change. South Pacific island nations face the greatest risk from sea level rise. “The region wants to work with us and expects us to lead by example,” said Albanese.

Roughly speaking, the Indo-Pacific means the region from the Indian Ocean to the northern Pacific Ocean, which covers most of Asia and extends to the west coast of the United States. The first face-to-face Quad Summit took place in Washington last September. In addition, according to the White House, there are already two video quad switches.

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