Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has praised the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, also known as Quad, for its strength and purpose after he attended the dialogue’s first-ever leader level meeting.
The meeting, which was held virtually on March 12, resulted in the four countries pledging to establish three working groups (pdf) on climate change, COVID-19 response in the Indo-Pacific, and critical and emerging technologies.
News Corp’s The Australian reported that Morrison praised the strength of the Quad during a party room meeting in Parliament House on March 16, saying it was now “a seriously big deal.”
“There are things that happen in the life of a government that transcend the generations,” Morrison said. “This is, I would argue, the most significant thing to have occurred to protect Australia’s security and sovereignty since ANZUS.”
ANZUS is a security treaty between Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.
Morrison also reportedly said the Quad would help show countries in the region that “liberal democracy is a way to get things done that preserves the freedom of our citizens.”
This is a sentiment that Morrison shared with U.S. President Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Suga, and Indian Prime Minister Modi at the virtual summit.
“As four leaders of great liberal democracies in the Indo-Pacific, let our partnership be the enabler of peace, stability and prosperity and to do so inclusively with the many nations of our region,” Morrison said.
He also noted that it was the Indo-Pacific that will shape the destiny of the world in the 21st Century.
“We join together as Quad leaders of nations to welcome what I think will be will be a new dawn in the Indo-Pacific through our gathering,” he said. “History teaches us that when nations engage together in a partnership of strategic trust, of common hope and shared values, much can be achieved.”
Comprising of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States, the Quad was developed out of the joint response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami that devastated Indonesia in 2004 and was formally initiated in 2007 by Japan to address security issues in the Indo-Pacific region.
However, not everyone is happy with the strengthening of Quad’s place in the region.
On March 15, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijuan warned against countries forming “exclusive cliques” that target a third party—like China. He also claimed the actions of the Quad ran counter to peace, development and cooperation, saying they will not be welcomed or succeed in the region.
But the Quad said in its statement that it “seeks to uphold peace and prosperity and strengthen democratic resilience, based on universal values.”
Victoria Kelly-Clark contributed to this article.