U.S. President Joe Biden is to host the first in-person meeting on Friday of its Indo-Pacific security alliance, commonly known as "Quad" with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In a statement, the White House said hosting the Quad summit shows the Biden administration seeks to make good on its commitment to multilateralism to fight 21st century challenges and its shift towards prioritizing the Indo-Pacific region.
The underlying message signifies sending China a signal that other regional powers are united.
This includes India, which is not a full-fledged ally of the U.S., but could be a key determinant in the future of Quad.
"India has always been hesitant in pressuring China 100-percent. Traditionally, India’s foreign policy has been always focused on non-alignment or multi-alignment which means that it does not like to be sidelining on one specific country."
The Quad leaders are expected to address a wide range of issues including joint projects on infrastructure, 5G internet connectivity, securing the global supply chain of semiconductor chips as well as Canberra's recent decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines with help from the U.S. and UK governments.
Reuters reported they'll also address China's expansion in maritime waters in the Natuna Islands in the South China Sea under the country's so-called "nine dash line" going against a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration which found there was no legal basis for China's territorial claims.
In response, the U.S. and its European allies have conducted military exercises in the region to support "freedom of navigation."
Another major issue concerns the free distribution of jointly manufactured COVID-19 vaccines in Southeast Asia which has been impeded by a massive outbreak in India.
The country's foreign ministry said it's expected the Quad leaders will agree upon kickstarting vaccine exports renewing its earlier pledge following the stabilization of the outbreak in India.
This is in response to China's distribution of its locally made Sinovac vaccine to developing countries in Southeast Asia, Middle East and South America.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.