WEDNESDAY, February 28, 2024

Quad countries call for maritime rules-based order in South and East China Seas

Quad countries call for maritime rules-based order in South and East China Seas

Amid aggressive posturing by China on maritime issues, the four Quad countries today called for adherence to international law, particularly as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the South and East China Seas.

”We are determined to deepen engagement with regional partners, including through capacity-building and technical assistance, to strengthen maritime domain awareness; protect their ability to develop offshore resources, consistent with UNCLOS; ensure freedom of navigation and overflight; combat challenges, such as illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; and promote the safety and security of sea lanes of communication,” foreign ministers of India, Australia, Japan and the United States said in a joint statement at the end of their day-long meeting in Melbourne.

The meeting was attended by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Hayashi Yoshimasa and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The four countries reaffirmed the Quad’s commitment to supporting Indo Pacific countries’ efforts to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific – a region that is inclusive and resilient, and in which states strive to protect the interests of their people, free from coercion.

On their resolve to jointly deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, they said they were pleased with the Quad Vaccine Partnership’s rapid progress in expanding vaccine production at the Biological E Ltd facility in India, which aims to deliver at least 1 billion vaccines by the end of 2022.

”We look forward to the delivery of the first batch of Quad-supported vaccines in the first half of this year. We are assisting to train healthcare workers, combat vaccine hesitancy and augment infrastructure, especially cold chain systems, for ‘last mile’ vaccine delivery,” they said.

The foreign ministers said they were working to identify and address vaccine gaps and barriers exacerbated by gender, disability and social inequities, and ensure safe, effective, affordable and quality-assured vaccination coverage in hard-to-reach areas.

The joint statement said the Quad was exchanging information on ever-evolving threats and working with Indo-Pacific countries, and in multilateral fora, to counter all forms of terrorism and violent extremism.

”We denounce the use of terrorist proxies for cross-border terrorism and urge countries to work together to eliminate terrorist safe havens; disrupt terrorist networks and the infrastructure and financial channels which sustain them, and halt the cross-border movement of terrorists,” they said.

In this context, the four countries also called on all countries to ensure that territory under their control was not used to launch terror attacks and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such attacks. ”We reiterate our condemnation of terrorist attacks in India, including 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot attacks. We reaffirm UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021) that Afghan territory should not be used to threaten or attack any country, shelter or train terrorists, or plan or finance terrorist acts, with such ungoverned spaces being a direct threat to the safety and security of the Indo-Pacific,” the joint statement added.

They said the four Quad countries champion the free, open, and inclusive rules-based order, rooted in international law, that protected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of regional countries.