New Delhi: In a season of gross scepticism expressed by prophets of doom over the Modi government’s vaccination initiatives against Coronavirus, the Quad partners comprising the US, Japan, Australia and of course New Delhi have pledged to work collaboratively to achieve expanded manufacturing of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines at facilities in India.
“Quad partners will address financing and logistical demands for production, procurement, and delivery of safe and effective vaccines. Quad partners will work to use our shared tools and expertise, through mechanisms at institutions including the United States Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and, as appropriate, Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC), as well as others,” said a statement from the US government’s The White House.
The statement came sharing details of the Quad Virtual Summit held between Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Japanese and Australian counterparts Yoshihide Suga and Scott Morrison and US President Joe Biden on Friday evening.
It said while Japan, through JICA, is in discussions to provide concessional yen loans for the Government of India for the vaccines, the United States, through the DFC, will work with Biological E Ltd., to finance increased capacity to support Biological E’s effort to produce at least 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2022 including the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
JICA loans will be used to boost manufacturing for COVID-19 vaccines for export, with a priority on producing vaccines that have received authorization from WHO Emergency Use Listing.
Quad partners will ensure expanded manufacturing will be exported for global benefit, to be procured through key multilateral initiatives, such as COVAX, that provide life-saving vaccines for low-income countries, and by countries in need.
Quad partners will also cooperate to strengthen “last-mile” vaccination, building on existing health-security and development programs, and across our governments to coordinate and strengthen our programs in the Indo-Pacific, it said.
This includes supporting countries with vaccine readiness and delivery, vaccine procurement, health workforce preparedness, responses to vaccine misinformation, community engagement, immunization capacity, and more.
Australia will contribute US$77 million for the provision of vaccines and “last-mile” delivery support with a focus on Southeast Asia. The funding will be also used supporting procurement, preparing for vaccine delivery, and strengthening health systems in Southeast Asia.
Ladakh and China angle
Sources said the three Quad leaders – Biden, Suga and Morrison – had sympathetic views towards India on eastern Ladakh issues vis-a-vis China.
A Joint statement made these related issues further clear. “Together, we commit to promoting a free, open rules-based order, rooted in international law to advance security and prosperity and counter threats to both in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. We support the rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes, democratic values, and territorial integrity.
We commit to work together and with a range of partners. We reaffirm our strong support for ASEAN’s unity and centrality as well as the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific,” the Joint Statement said.
Meanwhile, China has come out with a rather caustic reaction.
“Exchanges and cooperation between nations should contribute to the mutual understanding and trust among nations, rather than targeting a third party or damaging the interest of a third party,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said.
The Joint statement said, “We will continue to prioritize the role of international law in the maritime domain, particularly as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and facilitate collaboration, including in maritime security, to meet challenges to the rules-based maritime order in the East and South China Seas”.
“We reaffirm our commitment to the complete denuclearization of North Korea in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions, and also confirm the necessity of immediate resolution of the issue of Japanese abductees. As long-standing supporters of Myanmar and its people, we emphasize the urgent need to restore democracy and the priority of strengthening democratic resilience”.
PM Modi in his address said – the Quad has come of age and this is reflected in the agenda of the Summit.
“Our agenda today – covering areas like vaccines, climate change and emerging technologies – makes the Quad a force for global good. I see this positive vision as an extension of India’s ancient philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which regards the world as one family.
We will work together, closer than ever before, for advancing our shared values and promoting a secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”
Emerging Technology Working Group
A Face Sheet released by MEA said, the Quad leaders recognize that a free, open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific requires that critical and emerging technology is governed and operates according to shared interests and values. In that spirit, we will convene a Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group, which will:
Develop a statement of principles on technology design, development, and use; Facilitate coordination on technology standards development and also encourage cooperation on telecommunications deployment, diversification of equipment suppliers among other things.