Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar on Saturday dismissed the notion that Quad grouping is Asian NATO. Calling it lazy analysis, he cautioned that such analogies are pushed forward by “interested parties” and the international community must not fall for it. He was participating in a panel discussion on 'A Sea Change? Regional Order and Security in the Indo-Pacific' at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) 2022. Jaishankar opened up on a wide range of topics including China's aggression in Indo-pacific. Here’s what he said at the conference on diverse topics:
1. Quad is not Asian NATO
“I would urge you not to slip into that lazy analogy of an Asian-NATO. It isn't because there are three countries who are treaty allies. We are not a treaty ally. It doesn't have a treaty, a structure, a secretariat, it's a kind of 21st century way of responding to a more diversified, dispersed world,” FM Jaishankar said.
2. Quad signifies interests shared by the US, Australia, Japan and India
“Quad is a grouping of four countries who have common interests, common values, a great deal of comfort, who happen to be located at four corners of the Indo-Pacific, who found out that in this world no country, not even the US, has the ability to address global challenges all on their own,” Jaishankar noted.
3. Development of Quad an organic process, not a result of post-pandemic politics.
“Our relations with the quad partners -- the US, Japan and Australia -- have steadily improved in the last 20 years. The quad has a value in itself. It is four countries who recognise today that the world would be a better place if they cooperated. And that's essentially what's happening,” Jaishankar further said.
4. Quad countries committed to vaccine diplomacy but differ on TRIPS (intellectual property locally to manufacture vaccine) waiver
“The Quad has agreed to do a vaccine project. I don't think the quad necessarily has an identical view on all subjects, including on the TRIPS waiver. I think we have a range of views on that. Perhaps ours are, in my view, the most progressive… The point which is troubling is... if you have a once-in-a-century pandemic with such horrific consequences and then say it has to be business as usual when it comes to producing vaccines, ask yourself- are we doing the right thing?" Jaishankar said.
FM Jaishankar also expressed concerns on the longevity of the pandemic and access to quality, affordable vaccine. “This will be stretching out of a pandemic possibly which need not have happened. If we collectively had had more effective policies,” Jaishankar said.
5. Quad working on improving connectivity to ease supply chain crisis:
“We would certainly encourage countries whose connectivity principles and policies are similar and I have spent some time discussing with the German development minister how we can work our development policy much closer. It is a conversation we have had with the Japanese, Americans, Australians within Quad but a lot of them are bilateral as well and I think this is going to be among the big issues in intl relations in the coming decades,” Jaishankar noted.
6. India rejects poll which shows low level of trust on India's role as net security provider among southeast Asian countries:
“I am a politician, so I believe in polls. But I have never seen any polls which made any sense to me when it comes to foreign policy... but I would like to say that our relations with ASEAN are right now actually growing well...,” Jaishankar said.
“If I were to look at the evolution of the two big changes that are taking place. We have much stronger security cooperation with the ASEAN. In the Philippines, we have signed agreements for military supplies to the Philippines. We are part of ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Plus,” Jaishankar further asserted.
7. Post-pandemic Indian economy will be competitive:
“We expect a 9.2/9.3 growth rate this year which I think is more than decent. Secondly, our exports are at a record high. So it shows that despite not being a member of free trade arrangements, the reforms we have done, the belt tightening we have done, and the learnings of the COVID period have actually created a fairly resilient economy,” Jaishankar confidently said.
8. No similarity between Russian buildup in Ukraine and Chinese buildup at the LAC:
“I don’t think the situations in the Indo-Pacific and transatlantic are really analogous,” FM Jaishankar asserted on Saturday.
His comments come on the back of the Ukrainian crisis where the US is trying to shore up diplomatic support from allies and friendly countries, including India, to avert a Russian invasion.
“Certainly the assumption in your question that somehow there is a trade-off and one country does it in the Pacific and so in return you do something else, I don’t think that’s the way international relations work,” he said.
“We have quite distinct challenges, what is happening here and what is happening in the Indo-Pacific… if there was a connection by that logic, you would have had a lot of European powers already taking very sharp positions in the Indo-Pacific. We didn’t see that. We haven’t seen that since 2009,” Jaishankar asserted.