Leaders from the U.S, Australia, India and Japan on Friday discussed Covid-19 vaccination programs, emerging technologies, space, climate and clean energy in the first in-person meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.

The four nations committed to the Quad relationship following years of uncertainty, opting to continue meeting on an annual basis, said Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga following the meeting in Washington, D.C.

Prior to the meeting, one U.S official stressed that the gathering was “unofficial” and was in no way a military or security alliance. Nevertheless, suspicions have lingered in recent months and China itself has been bridled by the four nations’ cooperation.

The in-person meeting of leaders in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue met on Friday to discuss shared issues within the Indo-Pacific region.
Leaders in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue met on Friday to discuss shared issues within the Indo-Pacific region. Twitter/ Narendra Modi

China expressed its concern that the meeting might affect “third parties.” Major national news outlet China Daily — owned by the Chinese Communist Party — has published editorials criticizing the Quad for going against regional values, stating “they have pinned a target on China’s back.

Likewise, the recent military alliance announced between Australia, the United Kingdom and the U.S. concerned China.

“Indeed, the rationale for the formation of the Quad was to push back against an allegedly ‘increasingly assertive China,’ which Beijing insists is a ‘serious misjudgment’ of China’s development,” the article stated.

In the meeting, President Joe Biden announced a fellowship for Quad nations’ students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics, though little else is clear.

Shortly after the meeting, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison continued to push the importance of the Quad — and recently announced the Aukus military alliance — in a video recording for the United Nations 76th General Assembly.

“It is essential that countries pursue these interests in ways that are mutually respectful and support stability and security,” said Morrision. “We want to maintain an open, rules-based international system that supports peace, prosperity, human dignity and the aspirations of all sovereign nations.”

Earlier in the week, Pacific nations made their own political pleas at the General Assembly for the inclusion of Taiwan as a member. In their addresses, both Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands — and Tuvalu — urged the United Nations to recognize Taiwan after years of silence. China considers Taiwan part of its realm, though Taiwan’s membership at the UN has been rejected several times.

“As a people-centric institution, the UN cannot ignore the Taiwanese people or continue to use their nationality to exclude them from attending public meetings or public tours at its headquarters,” said RMI President David Kabua. “The shameful silence must end.”

Nauru President Lionel Aingimea said that “Taiwan is an important part of the global response to this pandemic, and its exemplary response to the global pandemic should not be ignored,” while urging its inclusion in the World Health Organization.

Kabua further expressed his concerns about tensions in the Pacific at the Assembly, asking that the UN maintain peace and dialogue.

“My own Pacific islands region faces a new emerging security threat in the form of geopolitical competition,” Kabua said, without directly referencing China. “As island leaders we must remain firmly in control of our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and stand apart from any who would seek to have us trade our core values for easy inducement.”

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