The Quad members on Tuesday spoke in one voice on issues that concern them individually as well as collectively, forming a united front to resolve them amid comments that the members have disagreements, particularly regarding the Indian stand on the ongoing Ukraine war.
The Quad leaders' joint statement issued after that meeting condemned terrorism, called for peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis, opposed coercion in the South China Sea, and announce for an infrastructure push in the Indo-Pacific region.
While no country was named in the statement, the joint statement serves as a collective push against China in a region where it's rapidly working to emerge as a leader with economic partnerships and military aggression.
Here we explain how the joint statement shows that the four countries are onboard on some of their most sensitive issues.
Quad condemns terror, echoes India on Ukraine
The four countries condemned terroris, cross-border acts of terror, and mentioned Mumbai and Pathankot attacks.
India has accused Pakistan for a long time of supporting terrorist activities against India. Both Mumbai and Pathankot terrorist attacks were carried out by groups based and supported in Pakistan.
In condemning terrorism, cross-border terror, and naming Mumbai and Pathankot attack, the fellow Quad members Australia, Japan, and the United States have honoured the Indian position on the issue. While they did not name Pakistan, the message was clear for those who could read it.
The Quad leaders said, "We denounce the use of terrorist proxies and emphasize the importance of denying any logistical, financial or military support to terrorist groups which could be used to launch or plan terror attacks, including cross-border attacks. We reiterate our condemnation of terrorist attacks, including 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot attacks."
On Ukraine, the Quad leaders' joint statement said, "We discussed our respective responses to the conflict in Ukraine and the ongoing tragic humanitarian crisis, and assessed its implications for the Indo-Pacific.
"We underscored unequivocally that the centerpiece of the international order is international law, including the UN Charter, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states. We also emphasized that all countries must seek peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law."
While New Delhi has not outright condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, because of its military dependance on Russia among other reasons, New Delhi has engaged with both sides and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directly asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war and resolve dispute with Ukraien via dialogue.
Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Modi has emphasised India's belief in respect for international law, the territorial integrity, and sovereignty of all countries as the basis of the contemporary world order.
The Quad joint statement is therefore in line with the Indian approach. Earlier, Australia said that Quad countries accept the Indian position on Ukraine.
Quad on North Korea, South China Sea
US President Joe Biden began his Asia visit from South Korea, for whom North Korea remains a major concern shared by the US. The Quad leaders North Korea's missile launches and called for its denuclearisation.
The joint statement said, "We reaffirm our commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, consistent with United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs)...We also condemn North Korea’s destabilizing ballistic missile development and launches, including multiple intercontinental ballistic missile tests, in violation of UNSCRs, and call on the international community to fully implement these resolutions. We urge North Korea to abide by all of its obligations under the UNSCRs, refrain from provocations, and engage in substantive dialogue."
The Quad statement opposed militarisation of South China Sea, where China and Japan are involved in a dispute over islands and maritime boundary.
The joint statement said, "We strongly oppose any coercive, provocative or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo and increase tensions in the area [the East and South China Sea], such as the militarization of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities."
Quad's push for infra countering China
China has often been accused of weaponising trade and investment. Not long ago, China was in a trade war with Australia, where it had banned Australian imports as economic cost of not agreeing to Beijing on all issues.
Beijing has also spread its influence across the region with investment and financing for development projects, which notoriously remain opaque. The four Quad members announced they would extend $50 billion in infrastructure assistance and investment in the Indo-Pacific region over the next five years.
Targeting China for debt-trap model of investments without naming it, the Quad leaders said Quad investment would be transparent and sustainable.
The joint statement said, "We will work to strengthen capacities of the countries in need to cope with debt issues under the G20 Common Framework and by promoting debt sustainability and transparency in close collaboration with finance authorities of relevant countries, including through the “Quad Debt Management Resource Portal,” which consists of multiple bilateral and multilateral capacity building assistance."
The push against climate change
Climate change is central to all four Quad members, but US President Biden and newly electede Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese have particularly pushed for climate change in their countries and it's key to their domestic agenda.
Biden, in particular, came to political office in sharp contrast to his predecessor Donald Trump who walked the United States out of Paris Agreement and denied climate change.
In making climate change a key Quad agenda, the two countries have honoured Biden and Albanese.
Of new Australian PM Albanese, the joint statement noted, "We welcome the new Australian Government’s commitment to stronger action on climate change, including through passing legislation to achieve net zero by 2050 and lodging a new, ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution."
Albanese's party had made climate change a part of their electoral agenda.