New maritime surveillance aimed at China

DThe United States, Japan, India and Australia will establish a joint Indo-Pacific shipping control system to better control illegal fishing and maritime militia. The project is aimed at China, which experts believe is responsible for most of the illegal fishing activity in the region. This is the most tangible outcome of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) Summit in Tokyo.

Patrick Welter

Correspondent for business and politics in Japan based in Tokyo.

With regard to the war in Ukraine, the heads of government of the four countries called for the integrity of the country’s territorial integrity and a peaceful solution. However, they did not together condemn the Russian aggressor. “It’s only natural that there are cases where we don’t completely agree,” said Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, citing India’s traditional relationship with Russia. The Quad Group is part of an effort by the United States and Japan to curb Chinese expansionism in the Indo-Pacific through an institutionalized alliance. The four were revived in 2017. Since last year, heads of government have met four times, both virtually and in person.

On the sidelines of the meeting, US President Joe Biden denied reporters’ questions about whether the United States’ “strategic ambiguity” on the Taiwan issue was dead. What this means is that America remains open about how it will react in the event of a Chinese attack on Taiwan. The day before, Biden had pledged Taiwan’s military support in the event of a third attack, but also stated that American policy had not changed.

The maritime surveillance initiative aims to track illegal fishing and smuggling and the so-called maritime militia. This includes Chinese fishing vessels, which act as a kind of coast guard to demonstrate China’s territorial claims in the East and South China Seas. With the initiative, the Quad wants to enable partner countries in the region to observe vessels in their territorial waters and exclusive economic zones in a timely manner. Satellite-powered and based on commercially available data, the system must also be able to track vessels that have turned off their automatic position sensors.

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